Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
We’ve all heard stories of how much people have valued their Bible. Accounts of Waldensian believers who carried scraps of Scripture in a clandestine manner to keep from being discovered come to mind. This may be hard for us to imagine when we may have multiple copies of the Bible gathering dust on our book shelves. But value is based upon many differing factors and we will look at several of these.
The Gutenberg Bible held in the Library of Congress is especially valuable for a number of reasons. Often cited as being the first book printed in Europe using movable type, this makes it of historical worth for it represents a major change in the learning process. Prior to this time, books were copied by hand, but even with this invention, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible still sold for 30 florins which was about three year’s wages for a clerk and thus out of reach for most.
Another reason it is so highly valued is that it is of high aesthetic and artistic quality. Even a cursory glance at it reveals the beauty of workmanship used to produce it. It has been estimated that it took three years to produce the original copies. These factors contribute to making it among the most valuable books in the world. In 1978, the last complete copy sold went for $2.2 million. It has been estimated it would sell upwards of $35 million at auction today. With such a high monetary value placed upon it, it’s not surprising that several efforts have been made to steal or forge copies of this work.
What we haven’t mentioned is that which gives it its greatest value – the ability to change lives. But that’s also true of more recent editions as well. Yours may be paper bound with added cartoon drawings. Or maybe it’s a red-letter edition bound in Moroccan leather. But even if you’re the only individual to possess aGutenberg Bible, the good news is that the same saving truth is available to all. And that offers us the best definition of value.