Has the Good Book fallen upon bad times?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Bible sales are down. But the American Bible Society promptly challenged the newspaper’s figures.

We hope that the Society is right and the Journal wrong. More important than the number of Bibles sold and distributed, of course, is the extent to which the content is studied and applied. We could wish that each North American home had one Bible that was consulted regularly rather than a half dozen that merely docorate a shelf. But the more available the Bible becomes, the more it is likely to be read and respected.

The Bible is as good a Christmas gift as ever, for the Christian as well as for the unbeliever. True, a cheap paperback Bible is just as much God’s Word as a leatherlined sealskin. It is lamentable, however, that many Christians who insist on quality in clothes and cars refuse to invest more than ten dollars in a Bible. In comparison to other similarly bound books, Bibles are usually bargains. A number of quality bindings are imported from Great Britain, where labor costs are less.

It is interesting that the first Bible printed in the American colonies was not in English but in a language used by Massachusetts Indians. That was a 1663 translation by John Eliot, a missionary. No English Bible was printed in America until 1782, when Robert Aitken published one with the approval and recommendation of Congress.

On a global scale, a translation of at least one book of the Bible is available in more than 1,325 languages, and 242 of these have the whole Bible. Revision work is going on in about 80 per cent of the languages that have the Bible in whole or in part.

Scripture translation and distribution on an international scale ...

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