9 October 2014

Bible

I became an atheist when I was about ten years old. God, Jesus, Creation, angels, Satan, wise men from the east, miracles etcetera - it just didn't add up. And now over fifty years later, I am more secure than ever in my godlessness. Strange then that last weekend I acquired a whacking great Bible.

It's more than a hundred years old and if I had a thousand of them I could build a solid house - The Bible House. It's sitting on our living room carpet as I write this blogpost - "The National Comprehenive Family Bible" edited by The Reverend John Eadie, a Scottish theologian who died in 1876. It's like a lump of concrete and about as much use to me.

So why have I acquired it? It belonged to my great grandfather John Thomas White and his wife Annie Holt. They were married on August 22nd 1898 and lived in a humble miner's cottage in Rawmarsh, close to the coal mine where my great grandfather and later my grandfather Wilfred Henry Jackson both worked.

I imagine a Bible salesman knocking on miners' doors, peddling these family bibles - a penny a week perhaps and many homes would have succumbed to his sales techniques even though his customers were generally very poor, living from wage packet to wage packet and from rent collection to rent collection. But never mind they could now find solace within the pages of their comprehensive family bibles, couldn't they?

It is a shame that my great grandparents and later my grandmother didn't keep up the family section at the beginning of this old bible. There's very little to see but what I did discover is that John Thomas died a mile from this house - in Fulwood, Sheffield, a year after my birth. He would have been eighty two. I guess I will never know if my mother attended his funeral nor why he was residing so far from his previous home.

The Bible is filled with fanciful pictures which are more meaningful to me than all that tired verbiage, for I reside like Cain in the land of Nod:-
Family page giving some useful information
One of many illustrations
Entry re, my grandmother Phyliss

9 comments:

  1. My great grandmother had a family bible that resided in her front sitting room. No one used that sitting room. It was just a room at the front of the house that had the most uncomfortable of chairs, and domes of dried flowers from someone's funeral. My mother now has the family bible and I do hope I don't inherit it. I don't need to accumulate family heirlooms. I do remember the family bible hiding newspaper cuttings of various family members from years gone by. Like you say, it needs someone from each generation to take up that charge of updating the births, deaths, baptisms and marriages. What will you do with it YP?

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    1. I would like to pass it on to one of my female cousins Carol. The oldest one is very religious so she will probably appreciate it. At present it is a bit of a hazard - I could easily trip over it. Big bloody thing!

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  2. I didn't think too much about religion until I read the Bible for myself. Twice, because I really couldn't believe what I read the first time, went on to read a bunch of other books about the Bible, then came back and read it again. Many of the mindless Christians I've known have never read it at all, they're operating on what someone else has told them at church, as if it's not a book a person could read for himself. If you read Alexander Sitchin, the Bible and all of history surrounding it fit together very well, and then you can decide whether or not to adopt the social traditions that go along with a religion.

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    1. Wise words Jan but don't shout them too loudly or you'll finish up tied to a stake with flames lapping around your ankles. A questioning mind doesn't sit well with most God-fearing communities.

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  3. I'm with you YP but I love churches! Go figure !
    The tradition of a family bible appeals but I cant be bothered. Think I'll do a photo book instead !!

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    1. I also love old churches. They speak of history and the people who walked these byways before me. I am awed by the architecture and the stone work and the thought of all those weddings and funerals and christenings.

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  4. No matter whether a person regards the bible as a holy book or not, it is good to know it because it helps to understand a lot about the cultural background of the society we live in.
    As for faith and religion, that is a very personal matter which should be decided individually and never been forced on someone, especially not on the grounds of some human structure of hierarchy (the pope??!! come on!!).
    While you are waiting for an occasion to pass the family bible to your cousin, it could come in handy as a door stopper.

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    1. I am keeping it near the door as a weapon to clout any burglars with. I agree with you that knowledge of The Bible assists our appreciation of culture and history in general...Jezebel!

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  5. What a beautiful old Bible. I have a couple of old family Bibles, but nothing as elaborate and stately as that one. It gets more difficult by the day to believe in religion. So much blood has been shed throughout the centuries in the name of religion...and is still is being shed. Sadly, the status quo shall remain.

    I question why people are so unsure of themselves that they feel so inclined towards believing in the totally unknown. For what purpose?

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