I am not sure how other bookshops do in these benighted times, they may indeed have been taken over by darkness, but here in my secondhand bookshop the bible is still the best-selling book and the only case where one title takes up a whole shelf.
Perhaps here in Ramsgate we have had a period intense religious activity, whatever it was a customer just asked me for a King James Bible and when I got to the religious section there weren’t any there and the bible shelf was pretty much empty.
Anyway I went of the store and found a pile of bibles to fill the shelf up, they date from between 1867 and about 1990 including a few sound full leather bindings in nice condition and some in pretty atrocious condition, now all priced between 99p and a tenner and put out on the shelf.
I guess one problem with the bible is that there are so many different English translations, with most people in the UK being very much influenced by The King James version published first in the early 1600s.
Here is the beginning of John’s gospel translated by William Tyndale about a hundred years before that.
“In the beginning was that word, and that word was with God: and God was that word. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it, was made no thing, that made was. In it was life, And life was the light of men, And the light shineth in the darkness, and darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was Ihon. The same came as a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light: but to bear witness of the light. That was a true light, which lighteneth all men that come into the world. He was in the world, and the world by him was made: and the world knew him not.
He came among his own, and his received him not. Unto as many as received him, gave he power to be the sons of God: in that they believed on his name: which were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor yet of the will of man: but of God.
And that word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw the glory of it, as the glory of the only begotten son of the father, which word was full of grace, and verity.”
As you can see one translation influences another, a complex business, so that selling the right bible to the right person may involve advanced bookselling skills.
Over years I have had some unanswerable questions from customers on this one, like. Which one’s the holy one and have you the original one?
I once asked an elderly colleague of mine why he performed exorcisms in latin, his answer being that he was certain that it was a language that the devil understood.
I am not a great reader of the bible, although I sometimes quote it, for time I was a member of an Anglican religious contemplative order and I guess that was sufficient god bothering for me. However like Shakespeare you need a copy of the bible on your shelf as a key reference work.
I guess there is a Kindle download, raising the interesting questions: Could you swear on it? Could you use it for an exorcism? Tricky area really.