By Ray Knapp
You may recall last month’s column when I was telling about the three old books Nathan Hashe had loaned me. I wrote mainly about the one for use by teachers from kindergarten through high school. But the book that held my attention the most was the one about a foot thick with the ornate backing and two hasps (one missing) holding it together. The 1,354 pages of this book, not counting numerous illustrations and references, is history in itself; compiled from the writings of William Smith, LL.D. from the works of 16 scholars from Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England who worked on the Bible daily from 1870 to its printing in 1890.
Unique – it has a side-by-side, verse-for-verse in parallel columns the King James Version of 1611 Bible to more updated pronunciation of English words, as well as going back and translating all the Greek writings of the oldest extant – some dating back to the first century A.D. And, where differences exist between the King James Version and this update/revision occur, notations exist giving reasons in the differences of translation and punctuations.
It appears this copy of this bible was first owned by The Fellowship Tract Club, 1120 S. 53rd Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Inside the bible was found a tract, which asked the question, “What difference will it make 1,000 years from now? It named off various things that wouldn’t make any difference; the one that caught my eye was, “Would it make a difference if a man had paid $1.50 for a meal, or .15 cents? It made me realize that tract had been written a long time ago.
The written words in this book could keep a person interested and you would certainly learn a lot about the bible, as biblical scholars had given a synopsis of each book, the time frame in which it occurred, and an opinion whether it had been written by the same author or not, and other tidbits of information. But what really made me reflect on whose hands this bible had been in before Nathan placed it in mine, was kind of heady stuff. How had it made its way down to Erwin from Philadelphia?
Stuck between the pages was a bobby pin; between two more pages in Judges 4, was a Lilly; flattened and as dry as the pages of the book. The Biblical verses tell about the 4th Judge of Israel, a woman named Deborah. Has this dried Lilly anything to do with an actual woman named Deborah whom the flower was placed in the Bible between these pages for?
Though it doesn’t mention the year, an obituary was also found in this book for Mrs. Frank T. (Toney) Runion of Erwin, who died at her home on Twin Oak Street, Friday at 5:30 p.m. She was only 39 and survived by her parents. It appears she was related to a lot of people from this area, like the Sparks of Rocky Fork, Briggs of South Carolina, Shelton’s and Ray Hardin of Flag Pond, and Rice of Erwin. The funeral was at the First Baptist Church with Rev. R.C. Smith officiating. Her husband had died about seven years previous. Something you don’t see in today’s obituaries, are flower bearers. In her case she had the three Duncan sisters, also Thelma Lilly, Flora Haynes, Mrs. Dollie Six, and Mrs. Dana Garland as well. Though the year wasn’t mentioned, it must have been in 1932 as a news blurb (Copywrite 1932,) with headlines reading “Japanese Tanks Lead Attackers.” “Bloody Hand to Hand Encounters Reported” is on the back of the obituary. This news article is referred to by the Chinese as the Shanghai Incident, or 9 Day Battle of Kiangwan.
Other than these bits of the past, there were dried four leaf clovers between some of the pages, showing people were superstitious back then, as – or more so, than they are today.
We all may think, what difference will anything make 1,000 years from now? Well, think back 2,000 years when things were happening in this book, translated into 683 languages as of 2018. Just perhaps what we do today, will matter 1,000 years from now.