December 2, 2020

Sharing A Special Bible: My 1973 “Bible as Literature” NASB

UPDATE:: John H at Confessing Evangelical is the first one in the pool. Jeremy Bouma at Novus Lumen joins in as well. Alan Creech comes through with a Catholic Bible.

UPDATE II: Here is the exact Bible I used. (Pictures at the bottom.)

I wonder if any bloggers out there would like to devote a post (and maybe a picture) to a Bible that has a special place in your spiritual journey?

bible2.jpgI became a Christian in 1972. The next year, I had the opportunity to take a very unusual class in a public school: Bible as Literature.

Our school was offering options in the English department. You made four choices for the year, from options as varied as creative writing, gothic lit and sci-fi. Seeing an opportunity to bring the Bible into the curriculum, Christians in the English department got two options of Bible as Literature on the menu.

So for most of a year, I took Bible from a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Whitmer. For me, a 16 year old growing up in Scofield fundamentalism, this was my first exposure to a serious and intelligent study of the Bible. Mrs. Whitmer did a tremendous job, and brought guests into the classroom who began to open me up to other minds who had seminary level education in Bible. And all of this in a public school.

This first journey in academic Bible study changed my life. I had never heard a college educated preacher before. Christians seeking education were viewed as walking into the jaws of temptation and I was actively counseled to avoid college. But here in “Bible Lit” I saw a different point of view on what education had to offer me as a Christian and preacher.

I will always treasure those classes and praise God for the effect they had on me to this day. As a high school Bible teacher today, I am carrying on what was given to me.

bibleopen.jpgThe Bible for that class was a New American Standard Version, black hardback textbook style, from the Lockman Foundation. It was a single column Bible with side column references. It was the first non-King James Version I ever had, and that was another major breakthrough for me.

We weren’t allowed to keep the Bible, of course, but I purchased a similar edition for myself and I still have it. It is a brown leatherette hardback cover, and the Bible was published by Gospel Light. My copy was printed in 1973. I’ve restored the cover a bit (glued the spine) and I still use the Bible frequently to read from at bedtime. The pages are remarkable quality, with absolutely no yellowing at all. The textbook quality paper was certainly very good in those days. Thirty-four years and it’s still in great shape.

This is a special Bible for me, and I thank God for what it represents in my life. Thanks to Mrs. Whitmer, wherever you are.

Now what about you?


  1. Wow, me too.
    I became a Christian in 1972. I too had early experiences with small town King James only (Schofield only) fundamentalism.

    My first “other” Bible was my NASB (printed 1971 – first edition). It being 1972, I had the binding cut off and a leather cover put on. The “hippie” who did the leather work for me allowed me to put my own design on the front (a dove descending with a branch), and my new life scripture, from Ps. 139: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

    I’ve still got that bible sitting on my desk.

  2. My first bible was a leather bound Scofield Bible, New King James version. I still have it. The binding is tattered, now held together with shipping tape. Some of the pages are missing. There is a lot of highlighting and underlining, and handwritten notes jotted down documenting what was an intense struggle to convince myself that the God of this bible existed for me. What is there in some of the pages as well, though no longer visible to human eye, are tears shed that fell on the pages, over struggles with habitual sin and blasphemous unbelief. Though I think Scofield was out in left field, this Bible is STILL special to me because of those youthful tears, still bound up in the fibers though not visible to the human eye. They testify to me of the pain that I was in when God met me, and of the healing that was there to absorb it.


  3. What a great idea! I’ll take you up on that offer for a post/picture. I’ll post in tomorrow! Thanks for the post inspiration!

  4. Hi Michael,
    What a great post! And a great challenge for others to think about their own spiritual journeys and what’s influenced them. I have my own Bible given to me by a very special man who heavily influenced my own spiritual journey. It was neat reflecting using that object to reflect on him and his life, especially since he passed away a few weeks ago.

    Thanks for this little exercise. It was great…

    ps-I took up your challenge and wrote my own post in reflection. You can view it by clicking my name above.

  5. In July of 1992 my parents died–three days apart, we had a double funeral–and for a year after that I used my mother’s KJV New Testament and Psalms for my daily devotions. It was comforting to see what she had underlined, notes she had made on radio sermons and even prayers that she had written and prayed for me and my brother and sister. Over the year I got to know her and her relationship with the Lord even more deeply than I had known in life. It was especially moving to me to see how she coped with fear and depression at a depth I had no knowledge of. In some ways each day was like listening in on a conversation between God and my mother. It was incredibly comforting and even inspiring.

  6. I had one exactly like the upper picture in your post, red NASB with almost a padded feel to the cover, and that swirly scipt too. I remember coming to faith in 1976, joining a church soon thereafter, and being counseled by a fellow teen on which version to get, because “some are good and some are bad.” I was so proud of that Bible. Thus began those early guilt-ridden days of my Christian faith, knowing that my fellow Evangelicals had mastered Bible study while I, carting around my Vines and Strongs (the more and heavier, the better), couldn’t get it right. Those heavy books are long gone, that Bible too, and I have a newer, compact NASB that suits me just fine. Just the other day I was thinking about the heavy burden I had in those days over not being able to get it right, and I wonder how time has relieved that burden.

  7. Probably the most meaningful would be my first: a KJV gift/award bible presented by my Sunday School back in 1978 because of my good attendance. It’s the first bible I read cover to cover — despite not understanding half of it ’cause I was seven and it was King James.

  8. Thank you, Michael, for the reminder to look at the way God has used His Word in our lives. My blog on the three Bibles that have made an impact on me is found at
    BTW, Isn’t it funny how our initial exposure to a particular version can shape our theology? Does that mean that experience often predicates theology, rather than theology influencing experience?

  9. This is my first comment. I was moved by some of the other responses so here is mine: My Father gave me the family bible, big Thompson KJV chain-reference, when he moved away to a different state. I always remember reading it in Church as a kid instead of paying attention to the sermon. But the one that means the most to me is a thinline compact ESV Bible my sister gave me last year. I had been back sliding as a Christian and she was praying for me and gave me the Bible. While reading the Gospel of Matthew I felt the Holy Spirit calling me back into the fold. I recently joined a Church for the first time in 20 years. That Bible is really special to me.

  10. Michael,
    You write that you became a Christian in 1972, when I assume you were 16 years old, but then you say you grew up in Scofield-influenced fundamentalism. What does ‘becoming a Christian’ mean in your context back then (and now?)? Why were you not a Christian prior to 1972?
    I’ve got no agenda here, well not much of one anyway – this is just language I’m not familiar with, perhaps because I live in a country where classic fundamentalism is and has been virtually unheard of outside of exclusive brethren circles. When I hear a person say they ‘became a Christian’ at such and such a time, it usually always means they had no exposure to the church and its message prior to that time. So I’m perplexed…I’m inclined to imagine that you never heard the Gospel in all those years in the orbit of funddamentalism prior to 1972…does this mean that if you had died as a child you would have gone to hell?…I’d be grateful for an elucidation of the meaning of this phrase. Thanks.

  11. Prior to 1972, I basically considered myself an atheist. I did not believe in the Christian God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    I was exposed to fundamentalist Christianity, but I rejected what I heard and did not believe it in any way applied to me.

    In 1972, I came to believe that Jesus died and rose for my salvation, I confessed my personal faith in Jesus as my Lord, and was baptized as a Christian believer.

    At the point I realized I was a sinner in need of a savior, I realized that without forgiveness God would be right to judge and condemn me as a lawbreaker.

  12. Many thanks, Michael.
    That makes perfect sense!
    If you have written elsewhere about your journey and/or fundamentalism, please point me in the direction of it.
    Meanwhile I will review the obvious categories in the sidebar.
    I greatly enjoy your blog.

  13. Grew up in a Disciples of Christ congregation, where there was a tradition of receiving “your own” Bible when you started fourth grade, prepping you for “pastor’s class” usually in 6th grade where you offered the “Good Confession” of Peter in front of the congregation at Palm Sunday and were baptized on Easter morning.

    Like everyone else in my class, i got a green cloth hardbound RSV, with a concordance and maps in the back. This was 1969. The existence of a concordance was as much a revelation to me as the 66th book of the Bible right ahead of that section, and i began to push off from the shores and shallows of Daniel and Joseph and baby Jesus into Paul’s letters and David after Goliath and right through the heart of the Sermon on the Mount.

    When i went into seminary, there were other Bibles piling up — and i could write another entry on my Oxford Annotated RSV with Apocrypha (not the recent ghastly OA-NRSV that’s been built on the ruined foundations Bruce Metzger laid in my edition) — but the green-cover Bible, the edges of the spine crumbling from friction and sweat, became the set-aside Bible i used for weddings and funerals.

    When my home church dedicated a new sanctuary, and i was invited back to share in the proceedings, the teacher whose signature is still in the front was back as well, Mrs. Burch. I carried the Bible up to her, showed her the signature, and told her how i’d been using it the last twenty years . . . we both wept, joyfully.

    But the most fun part of the story i had to tell her was that when i went on a pastors’ 10 day tour of Israel, my roommate and i got caught on the Mount of Olives at sunset (we went up to pray for our churches, which were worshiping at that hour which was 5:30 pm in Israel, 10:30 am back home, on a February evening in 1993).

    When we got done, we realized we were supposed to be on the far side of the Old City in thirty minutes, or our Israeli paratrooper tour guide would kick our sanctified hineys across the Kidron Valley. As we scrambled down through the cemeteries and towards Stephens/Lions Gate, i dug in my knapsack for . . . the green Bible. Flipped it open to the maps, where under orange and blue lines of the ancient city walls were grey lines of the current city of Jerusalem — and we used them to navigate through to Jaffa Gate, and out and around, past the King David Hotel to our more humble lodgings, boarding the bus out front as if we just left the building.

    At that, Mrs. Burch laughed, and i still do.

  14. I have one of those, too. Purchased in 1971 (or 1972) while a freshman in college.

    I showed it to someone at my home church, who responded with, “Well, it might be the Bible, but it isn’t the Holy Bible.”

  15. I came to know the Lord about the same time as you and Brad, so it’s no surprise my first Bible was also an NASB of about the same vintage. Mine also wears a hand-tooled leather cover, with Jesus is Lord on the front. The bound cover has almost fallen off several times, and several layers of packing tape holds it together. Since it was my only Bible for a long time, it has lots of underlining, highlighting and notes in the margins from Bible studies, sermons and quiet times. The front inside cover and just about any blank space is filled with study or lecture notes and special verses. Although I don’t use it often these days, I still love it. And the cross-references are still useful for study.

  16. Does it count if I posted it a year ago, complete with picture? Mine is the Christian Community Bible, a Roman Catholic Version that still manages to grab me even though I am a Protestant.

  17. This is so wierd! I just wrote a post about MY Bible! Complete with a picture and everything.

  18. I’d better stop hanging around here, but I do enjoy much of what you write, Michael. The Bible that made the biggest impression on me in an earlier part of my journey to faith was the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV). The concept of a scholarly Bible was a novel idea to me, and I spent hours at a time poring over it!

    I had not, however, been reborn in the Spirit, and because of the Bible’s overall theological liberalism, I could not come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour through it. Much more recently, after truly becoming a Christian, I purchased Yancey and Stafford’s NIV Student Bible, which is not half bad. Being part of the “TR” camp, I now use the Reformation Study Bible, which has greatly enriched my post-salvific life.

  19. …I meant the NOAB’s overall theological liberalism specifically….

  20. I threw my bible into the ring at my blog. These are great posts

  21. I did a post called “An Ode to my Thompson Chain Reference Bible” a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m thinking I’ll have to revisit the topic. My Thompson NAS is my most cherished possession, and symbolic of my recently re-ignited love for God’s word… a lot to ponder! Thanks for the little stroll down memory lane.

  22. I have been looking for an NASB published prior to the 1995 update and found an actual 1972 edition in cowhide for $35 + shipping at: I see now the Bible I got is sold out. but there are a few others left. I love the old NASB and find it most readable and the Psalms in it so majestic, especially Psalm 8 which is almost word for word the way Keith Green sang it in his song “How majestic is Thy name”.