I had not been a Christian long when I enrolled in the two-year study at White’s Ferry Road School of Preaching, the churches of Christ version of a seminary. There, I was immersed in intense Biblical studies, reading, Christian apologetics, historical facts, and memory work designed to mold me into a Church of Christ (Campbellite) evangelist.
I learned much more than I intended in this fine school and I’ll always be grateful for my instructors’ rigorous instruction that made the scriptures come alive as together we absorbed the sparks and breathed the inspired air. Though some of my fellow students held on to the King James version, and some gravitated to the New American Standard version, the instructors and the majority of the students in WFRSOP used the 1901 American Standard Version. I purchased my hardback Bible and had it leather-bound by a man in West Monroe who specialized in binding Bibles. My name was embossed in gold leaf on the cover. With the same Bible pictured here below my essay title, I began my journey through the Old and New Testaments.
I still remember the excitement, the epiphanies, and the serendipities of those early days of Bible study and I read this Bible every day of my early preacher life from cover to cover numerous times and even memorized several books of the Bible and many long passages. In the years that followed, I read several other translations from start to finish– Moffatt, New International Version, New American Standard, Revised Standard, New Revised Standard, the Living Bible, the King James version, and the New King James version. Though I enjoyed and gained insights from these versions, the version that really held my heart was this ragged American Standard.
While this version in its heyday was popular with a few congregations, schools, and Biblical scholars, it was never popular with the masses. Yet, it was the Bible of my spiritual beginning and the Bible of my current spiritual awakening. I’m looking at this same Bible again tonight, studying the marked, notated, and highlighted verses, with some loose pages in the middle, and I’ll continue my journey.