This Amazing Book
I received an email last week informing me about a great deal on Bibles that can be bought at a great price to give to others. There are lots of deals on Bibles out there but not many on Bibles you can actually read where the font size isn’t so small that you need a magnifying glass. Maybe it's because I’m getting older, but practically I think being able to read the Bible is what's actually helpful. ;)
So naturally I went straight to the website to order a few cases of Bibles and saw that within a very short time the supply was exhausted and there were none left to buy for such a great deal. Two thoughts went through my mind: 1) That’s too bad, that was a great deal! 2) The Bible is still unbelievably popular year after year.
It got me thinking, did you know:
The Bible is often said to be the world’s best sold book, but search the bestseller lists and you won’t find it anywhere, top to bottom. It makes you wonder: If it’s a bestseller, why isn’t it on the list? Well, the answer is simple. The annual sales figures for the Bible are so high, averaging between $425m and $650m, repeatedly – year after year – that it dwarfs the sales of all other books. The best any other book can hope for is second place and a very distant second place at that. A list of “bestsellers” is interesting only if the top spot is up for grabs, so the real bestseller had to give way to all the rest.
Guinness Records reports an estimated 2.5 billion Bibles were printed between 1815 and 1975 and The Economist estimates more than 100 million new Bibles are printed every year making a staggering total of over 6 billion in print. The New Yorker also pointed out that in 2005 the number of Bibles sold in the US alone was conservatively estimated at 25 million and Barna research indicates that 92% of all American households have at least one Bible and typically own three. That means most of the 25 million Bibles are being sold to homes that already have at least one and likely more.
John Wycliffe, who outspokenly differed with the organized church on many issues, was one of the first to translate the Bible into English. Although he died of natural causes, he was persecuted while he lived and pronounced a heretic several years after his death. To broadcast his judgment, his remains were exhumed in 1428, crushed, burned and thrown into the River Swift. His writings were also burned and scattered.
William Tyndale was the first to translate the Bible into English directly from Hebrew and Greek. His New Testament was also the first English translation to be printed using moveable type and for his efforts, he was executed by strangling and burned at the stake along with as many of his Bibles as could be confiscated.
It wasn’t until 1611 that the first “authorized” (allowed) version of the Bible was produced. This translation is known today mostly as the King James Version. Even though the Bible has been translated, published, read, studied, analyzed, bought, sold and given away freely since then, particularly in the English speaking world, it is still banned in many communities.