I'm a book geek, so one of my hobbies is collecting autographed books. Some I acquire through my work in book publishing; others I find at bookshops. I now have more than 500 signed volumes, comprising authors from Sue Grafton and Walter Wangerin to Anne Lamott and John Stott.

Authors sign their books in myriad ways. Jimmy Carter's signature is a modest "J Carter." Max Lucado's is barely recognizable—what might be an "ML__." Calvin Miller used calligraphy. Eugene Peterson signed off with "the peace of the Lord." J. I. Packer rotated through Bible verses, from 2 Timothy 3:14–17 for a book about Scripture to Psalm 46 for Knowing God. Chuck Colson chose Romans 12:2, but more baffling was his inscription, which looked vaguely like "Burm gd."

I especially treasure signatures from those who are no longer with us. My former Wheaton professor Bob Webber signed several books to me with Dominus Vobiscum ("the Lord be with you"). Spencer Perkins wrote, "In the hope of racial healing." Rich Mullins autographed CDs with "Be God's!" Stanley Grenz inscribed a theology text with "May our Lord guide your steps." And one of my most memorable dedications came from Madeleine L'Engle, who signed my copy of A Wrinkle in Time with "Tesser well."

But my favorite phrase was inscribed by Michael Card, who borrowed the apostle Paul's signature expression: "Grace and peace." This greeting is found in some form at the opening of all of Paul's epistles, most commonly, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

What many don't realize is that Paul coined a new phrase. "Grace" or "Grace to you" sounded like the standard Greek greeting, but was infused with theological meaning. On the other hand, "Peace" was a Jewish blessing ...

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Kingdom Sightings
Al Hsu is an editor at InterVarsity Press and author of The Suburban Christian, Grieving a Suicide, and Singles at the Crossroads. His column ran in 2008.
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