Thursday, December 8, 2016

Enormous Bibles

A few months ago, as I browsed used book sites on line, I fell in love with a two-volume Bible commentary written by Thomas Scott (1747–1821), later edited with new material by William Symington. The bookseller, Peter Harrington in London, accurately described the books as 240 cm by 310 cm in dimension, so I knew they were very large. This edition, one of several different editions that one can find at online sites and old bookstores, was published in Glasgow in 1834. The red covers depict a decorative cross and also St. Paul's Cathedral, which I visited or the first time last week during my wife Beth's business trip to England. So now these enormous Bibles, which I photographed next to a more portable Good News for Modern Man---my long-ago youth group Bible---for comparison, are part of my library of Bible-related books.  

Good ol' Wikipedia's article on Scott indicates that he was an influential author and preacher, born in Lincolnshire. He came from a farming family but left home to become an Anglican priest, though he deepened his faith only later when he met the hymn writer John Newton, famous for "Amazing Grace." Scott served as a hospital chaplain and preacher, and began publishing his commentary on the Bible in weekly installments, beginning in 1788. His work was very popular and sold £200,000 worth of copies in England and America by the time of Scott's death. Unfortunately, Scott sold the copyright in about 1810, so he made about £1,000 profit. "John Henry Newman wrote: 'They [Scott's works] show him to be a true Englishman, and I deeply felt his influence; and for years I used almost as proverbs what I considered to be the scope and issue of his doctrine, "Holiness before peace," and "Growth is the only evidence of life."'" 

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