What is the value of a Bible?

Published 7:30 am Sunday, July 9, 2023

A few months ago, an 1,100-year-old Bible sold for $38 million during an auction at Sotheby’s in New York City.

News reports describe the Bible as “a 26-pound, weathered manuscript handwritten in Hebrew.” One of the world’s oldest surviving biblical manuscripts, it contains “396 sheets of parchment stacked five-inches thick.”

Sotheby’s specialist in Jewish manuscripts said, the $38 million price tag “reflects the profound power, influence, and significance of the Hebrew Bible, which is an indispensable pillar of humanity.” It’s one of the highest prices for a manuscript sold at auction.

The manuscript was reportedly donated to the Museum of the Jewish people in Tel Aviv where it will be on display. The previous owner paid $3.1 million for the Hebrew Bible and kept the manuscript hidden away for 40 years, so the public will now be able to view it.

I collect Bibles. Most of my Bibles were given to me, starting with a small Bible presented to Sunday School students. The church gave each graduate a new Bible to launch us into the future.

All of my Bibles are valuable. I couldn’t put a dollar amount on any of them. But they wouldn’t be worth much at auction. But they certainly valuable to me…sentimentally and spiritually. I own a hardcover New Testament that once belonged to my great-grandmother.

With the passing of time as my grandparents and parents passed away, I have inherited about a dozen more Bibles. My dad once gave me the first Bible from which he preached as a young minister. “If this Bible could talk…, he told me about preaching on street corners and jails, not to mention churches and funeral homes.

The pages of his first preaching Bible were falling apart, and the worn-out leather cover was barely holding the Bible together. On almost every page, a passage is underlined, and notes are written in the margins. When I look at it, I am reminded of the words of Charles H. Spurgeon, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

A Bible that belonged to my husband’s grandmother was given to me after she died. One Christmas our family had given her the large print, mauve-colored leather cover with her name engraved on the lower righthand corner. Last year, my cousin mailed me a small Bible used by my maternal grandmother that my cousin had found.

I count these Bibles and a dozen or more copies I have collected as some of my most valuable possessions. Turning the pages, I find out about the faith of generations before me. The Bible says blessed “are those who hear the word of God and obey it,” (Luke 11:28). As the family historian, the family tree pages in the front of the Bible help me research names and dates.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” Abraham Lincoln placed a value on God’s Word. “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.” Ronald Reagan put it this way, “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.”

Open the pages of your Bible and you will find a valuable treasure of wisdom for daily life.

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”