Disposing of old Bibles

I don't remember seeing this discussed over the years, but I may have missed it.

I have an old (from the late 60s) RSV Oxford Annotated Bible (I have another RSV that's actually a few years older, leather-bound, not Oxford Annotated, that's sort of my family Bible except that I have no family.)

The RSV Oxford Annotated was purchased as more of a text book than a religious book. I used it for several college courses, and it has my written notes in the margins, as well as those of a couple of seminary students who later used it. (It took a lot of arguing with myself before I dared to write in it!) The notes are worthless, and some of them are in hand-writing that I hope never to see again.

So what do I do with it? The spine is falling apart, and there are all those scribblings in it. But it IS still a Bible, and I'm not about to throw it in the trash. I'm sure it's not of use to anyone due to the condition it's in. Do I wait until cooler weather and reverently burn it in my backyard fire pit?

Comments

  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Jewish holy books are often buried in the cemetery. Maybe Christianity should adopt the same practice.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I remember this convo not a couple of years back. Someone inherited some Bibles they didn't care for and were wondering whether it was OK to donate them to a charity shop, or something along those lines. My google-fu is miserable or I'd go look for it.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    I'd be happy to donate it if it were in better shape. I've done this in the past with other Bibles. This one would not be wanted by anyone, I'm pretty sure.

    (When I worked in my church office, a lot of people donated old Prayer Books and Bibles. We had no use for them, but we stuck them on the shelf for someone else to deal with. But they were in better condition than this one.)
  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    I think I may see Bibles as a bit differently from you, so I apologise if my thoughts seem blasphemous. I tend to re-cover tattered old Bibles with colourful duct tape and washi tape, and I colour the pages as I read them, because I find it helps me engage with the text. If there were notes I didn’t want, I’d colour dark over them so I couldn’t see them. Duct tape can help mend Bibles if they are slightly falling apart. Though I’m not sure the solution if they are falling apart so completely that it is not possible to mend them. If it was totally unusable as a book, I might rip out the pages and use them in prayer journalling. Or if I really didn’t want them I’d put them in my recycle bin. Because I don’t see the physical book or the pages or the print as holy. I don’t know if any of these ideas can work if you do.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    fineline wrote: »
    I don’t see the physical book or the pages or the print as holy. I don’t know if any of these ideas can work if you do.
    I can perfectly understand this point of view. What confuses me are people who denigrate all of the physical objects my religious tradition sees as holy and therefore to be treated in certain ways, and then turns around and can't bear to toss out a Bible. Seems self-contradictory.
  • AIUI in Israel there are dedicated recycling bins especially for holy books. I'm not sure if they are interfaith or not.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    AIUI in Israel there are dedicated recycling bins especially for holy books. I'm not sure if they are interfaith or not.
    Just a tad bit out of my way...
    :wink:


  • IereusIereus Shipmate
    I have people dropping off old bibles, prayer books, Liturgy books, etc all the time. The older parishioners want to hold onto all previous versions of books used in the church as well! They’re usually kept on a table in the hall, for folks to take, which they never do, until someone gets frustrated enough and puts them on a back shelf in some storage area. The someone is usually me or presvytera!
  • Previous topic on the Ye Old Shippe™ started by Bullfrog and not the one I remembered; I can't find the one I remembered.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Previous topic on the Ye Old Shippe™ started by Bullfrog and not the one I remembered; I can't find the one I remembered.

    Thanks -- I thought maybe there had been one, but my memory is like a sieve.

    I think I may stick to the idea of a reverent bon fire when it gets cool enough outside.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    There is a certain je ne sais quoi in the "prayed the covers off it" look; though personally I do not share it
    My (Jewish) sister-in-law has a siddur (Prayer book) that is what I consider "a disgrace" but among those "of that ilk" (the "National Religious" or "knitted kippa") it is de rigeur that they all carry all dog-eared ones
    I will ask her about Eutychus' recycling bins later today.
    You could post them to me , Pigwidgeon. I'm always up for an interfaith adventure ... I mean mitzvah or Brownie "good deed"
  • MMMMMM Shipmate
    To my mind as well, it's just paper and ink. I'd put it in the recycling.

    MMM
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    So....my sister-in-law's suggestion is to take them to Chabad (the Lubavitch crowd who have centres world-wide) and they will be able to tell you what they can do.
    There is also apparently a box or similar outside any synagogue where you can dump any kind of stuff . (Not unwanted babies obvz!) And a section in any Jewish cemetery for burying Holy Writings though presumably you have to make arrangements with the local people
  • LeoLeo Shipmate
    Throw it in the bin - no idolatry.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    First thing the prof of in my introductory to Christianity class in college did was take the Bible and purposely dropped it on the floor His point was the words printed on a page in a certain book called the Bible was not holy. Rather, as he said, the Bible is the cradle on which the living Word of God resides. That is what is holy. This incident happened 50 years ago and I still remember it to this day.

    However, I am not going to denigrate how anyone feels about the Scriptures. I do like the idea of burying them in the cemetery out of respect.
  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    I wonder if it is similar to what was being discussed in the thread about death - that some people attach significance to objects because of their association with a special person who is no longer physically with them, whereas others don’t experience this. Sentimental value when it’s with people. Maybe spiritual value when it’s with God. I don’t see this as idolatry. It’s just something I don’t experience. My reason for wanting to hold onto old Bibles is more dislike of waste, and wanting to make use of what I have.
  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    Looking at this as a practical problem, maybe it's worth setting some parameters through thought experiments:

    1) You receive a shiny, new, unblemished copy of the Bible. For some reason, you don't want it (maybe you ordered it twice from Amazon by mistake). How do you dispose of it?
    2) On clearing out your house, you find your ancient, tattered Rupert the Bear annual - the one that got thoroughly mangled when your younger sibling scribbled all over it with crayons and ripped the cover off. How do you dispose of it?

    You should now know how you dispose of (on the one hand) books you consider sacred, and (on the other) old books of no value to anyone else. Hopefully there's an overlap between these two points and that will give you your answer.

    Personally, I am with those who say that a given copy of the Bible is just that - a copy - so as long as the content is securely retained somewhere else, I can dispose of this copy how I like (probably in the recycling).

    But given that you have used it as a study copy, are there any of the notes you have made in it that you would miss if they went? If you are sufficiently eminent, and there may at some point be an Institute of Pigwidgeon Studies, would they miss not having this in their collection? Given that you have in the past lent the book out, are there any of the borrowers who would like it?

    TL:DR: it's a redundant copy of a book. Unless someone has a good reason to keep it, dispose of it like any other paper waste
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    But given that you have used it as a study copy, are there any of the notes you have made in it that you would miss if they went? If you are sufficiently eminent, and there may at some point be an Institute of Pigwidgeon Studies, would they miss not having this in their collection? Given that you have in the past lent the book out, are there any of the borrowers who would like it?

    I don't think I (or anyone else) will miss the notes I made as a 17-year-old, studying Western Civ in college! The others who used it were my ex-husband and my sister's ex-boyfriend. I'm not interested in their notes, and I certainly have no intention of contacting either of them. (The cheapskates should have bought their own Bibles in the first place!)

    The Institute of Pigwidgeon Studies will just have to manage without it, I guess. :wink:
  • You could let Oxfam make the decision! If they can't sell a book they get it pulped. Either way they make money.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    1) You receive a shiny, new, unblemished copy of the Bible. For some reason, you don't want it (maybe you ordered it twice from Amazon by mistake). How do you dispose of it?
    You send it back to Amazon and get a refund.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    You could let Oxfam make the decision! If they can't sell a book they get it pulped. Either way they make money.

    I live in the United States, so I'd have to ship it over. (I usually visit England in the summer, but not this year.) We have places like Goodwill, but I know they're over-run with old Bibles, mostly in better shape than this one.
  • fineline wrote: »
    , I might rip out the pages and use them in prayer journalling.

    I do the same with old Bible pages, often incorporating them into other art work. I do not feel it dishonors them rather the opposite.
    Perhaps you might find a group offering a class on Spiritual Journaling at a retreat center who might be able to use it.
  • You remove the cover and dispose of that.

    The pages you keep until next year when, at the appropriate time, you use them as a basis for the small fire you need to consume old palm crosses to give you the necessary for ashing on Ash Wednesday. (If you add a few old candle ends to the mix it gives the ash a better colour and consistency, BTW!)
  • Who do we worship - a book, or God?

    I agree with Leo et al.

    These aren't the original documents!

    Chuck 'em in the recylcing bin if they are too tatty and buy a new one.

    The church I was in as a teenager had a cupboard full of mouldy Bibles - no one would ever read them - you couldn't with most being badly foxed, pages stuck together or the KJV (considering the NT was written in common everyday Greek, it seems stupid in 20th cent to be reading English written in Shakespeare's language). We were told that it was wrong to destroy a Bible. Well, we had a discussion and decided that the Bible was just a book. It wasn't God's Word - that was Jesus. There were plenty of other Bibles we could buy/get and some where the translation was more accurate. We had a bonfire and fireworks at New Year for the Youth Fellowship. It was great fun and gave a lovely warm glow.
    We didn't tell anyone and no one noticed!!!

    I have seen folk send old KJVs out to Africa. It's condescending and imperialistic. Africans need new Bibles in their own languages which they can understand not our old cast offs that are probably tatty and in a form of English the recipiants can't understand. I worked in 2 separate countries in Africa and the churches there would not have thanked you for your old Bibles.
  • WildHaggis wrote: »
    Who do we worship - a book, or God?
    Just my two cents, but I find this unhelpful to the discussion and a bit dismissive, if not judgmental. I doubt anyone would say Jews worship the book rather than God, but Judaism has fairly strict practices about how worn-out scrolls of Scripture or copies of the Tanakh are to disposed of.

    Yes, it’s a book, but it’s not just any book, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to want to dispose of a worn-out copy in a way that’s respectful. To equate that with “worshipping” the book isn’t justified, I don’t think.

  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    I agree, Nick. Many people show their respect for God by treating respectfully various objects/places/words of worship. It’s why I was being careful in my wording of what I might do, knowing that not everyone would feel right doing that.
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    edited August 13
    Look elsewhere in Eccles. You will find challenges every bit as robust to various time honoured traditions. The devotees of the printed word can expect no different treatment. I have a very low doctrine of the bible. Let each copy decay or burn as it may.
  • I'm not saying challenges, even robust ones, are problematic. I'm only taking issue with the apparent equating of "thinking some respect is due" to "worshiping." That seems to me to come close to a caricature that hinders fruitful discussion and, in my view, detracts from what might otherwise be a valid challenge.

    Others are, of course, free to disagree.
  • The Orthodox have a useful distinction between worship and veneration. We give worship only to God, but venerate many things including our mothers, the saints, and holy things like consecrated vessels.
  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    Muslims expect copies of the Koran to be on the highest shelf; Shin Buddhists don't place their service books on the seats in the temple (it's either in your hands or in the book rack in front of you). I try not to stack things on top of Bibles at home. Just a physical reminder of the importance of that volume, not an act of book-worship.
  • Oblatus wrote: »
    I try not to stack things on top of Bibles at home. Just a physical reminder of the importance of that volume, not an act of book-worship.
    I was taught that as a small child and still don't.

  • Donate them to the local prison? In our local jail some years ago bibles were highly prized because the thin paper made perfect roll-ups.
  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    That is interesting about not stacking things on top of Bibles - I’ve simply never heard of that, so it’s never occurred to me. I have several different Bibles in different versions and I stack them on top of each other sometimes, when I’m looking at them together. Sometimes I put a Bible in my bag and it jiggles around with my iPad Mini and other things, and can get a bit scuffed. I buy cheap second hand scuffed Bibles though, because I think if I had a pristine Bible, I’d be afraid to read it in case I damaged it. So I’d say it can be worth giving a scuffed old Bible to a charity shop because people like me like Bibles like that! :smile:
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