A couple weeks ago my wife was out rambling around, shopping the various “thrift” stores in our little city, and she called me up on my cell phone to tell me she had found a Bible I might be interested in. “It says it’s the Readers Digest Illustrated Bible, and the guy says I can have it for a buck and a half.” Well, I’m not really interested in this Bible, but it’s a curiosity. I told her that I’d take it, if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity.

So she bought it and brought it home to me, and I was a little bit surprised to see that it’s in great shape. Apparently whoever owned it before never used it much — and neither will I! But it’s fun to look at!

Besides, I know a fellow I met on the internet a few years ago who claims he got saved by reading the Readers Digest Bible. And I wanted to see what he was talking about!

This is not a small Bible, in spite of what you might think. Readers Digest is well known for their small magazine, but this Bible is a real biggy! I didn’t actually measure it, but setting it up alongside my NLT Study Bible, it appears to be a good 7 inches wide and 10 inches long, and at least 2 inches thick. The cover is navy blue cloth over hardboards (looks like black in these pictures) with the stained-glass paper applique on the front. And do you see what’s sticking out the bottom? Yes, that’s a ribbon marker, a very nice touch for a hardcover Bible. It’s all in almost-new condition – not bad for a 13-year-old Bible.

The copyright is 1990, but this one is from the 5th printing, in 1995. The text is actually the old Revised Standard Version, copyright 1971.

The text is all arranged in a single wide column. The font appears to be about 10 pt. and fairly easy to read. The text is supplemented by lots of interesting notes and illustrations in the outer sidebars and at the foot of many of the pages. Poetic passages, like the Psalms, also appear in a single column.

But what I find really interesting about this is that, while each book is identified, there are no chapter numbers or verses in this Bible. The folks at Readers Digest wanted it to read easily, like a novel, and that’s why they did it that way. (I always thought novels had chapters, but this Bible doesn’t!)

In addition to the many black-and-white illustrations, there are also three full-color sections in this Bible, two of them having photos of “great” paintings that were inspired by the scriptures, and one a large full-color biblical timeline.

So there you have it. It’s a curiosity, all right. I can easily see why this Bible has barely been used. It’s big and heavy, and the layout with no chapter or verse numbers is not conducive to any serious study; and besides all that, something I hadn’t mentioned before, this Bible is a Readers Digest Condensed Book! Parts have been left out! At first glance one would never suspect it, but when you have a regular Bible at hand and you compare them it will soon become obvious. (But what amazes me is how big this Bible would be if it wasn’t condensed!)

The Readers Digest Illustrated Bible is probably destined to sit on a bookshelf or on top of my coffee table as just a curiosity. But isn’t it amazing that our gracious God can use even this Bible to touch somebody and transform their lives?

(Sorry about the poor quality of these photos. It may take me a while to figure out how to get good pictures posted on here.)

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