10 Superlative bibles
Updated: Jan 27
The Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, breathed from the Father into the minds and hands of men. It’s humanity’s all-time bestseller and can be found in almost every corner of the world. But, humanity being humanity, things get weird. Submitted for your approval are ten bibles that are in one way or another a unique form of our sacred Word.
Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff.
10. Largest Bible (Baby Got Book)
Where do you find the largest Bible on the planet? If you didn’t say “Texas” we can’t be friends. Truth is, Louis Waynai’s King James Bible, now at the Abilene Christian University Library, is the undisputed largest bible in the world, measuring 43.5 inches tall by 98 inches wide ( 4 by 8 feet ).
Weighing in at 1,094 lbs and sporting 8,048 pages that took two years to print, the Waynai was first brought to Fort Worth, Texas -by rail- and resided for many years at the Rosen Heights Church of Christ. It was later donated to ACU as a not-so-subtle reminder to clean things up down there.
Yeah, it’s gonna be like that. It’s ALL gonna be like that. Buckle up.
9. Smallest Bible (Size Doesn’t Matter)
Created at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Nano Bible makes your leatherbound buddy look morbidly obese. Somehow the eggheads at Technion etched the 1.2 million letters of the Old Testament (this is Israel we’re talking about) onto a disk that can fit between the ridges of your fingerprints. The base is only 100 atoms thick, so it’s no wonder Astronaut Eytan Stibbe took the Nano with him to the International Space Station in 2015 – those guys pack light!
If you want to squint at a Nano yourself, additional copies were given to Pope Benedict XVI and the Dibner Library in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Hope they have a sneeze guard.
8. Most Expensive Bible (Keep the Receipt!)
Cash burning a hole in your pocket? The most expensive Bible is a Gutenberg first edition sold at a 1987 auction for $5.39 million ($12.2M today). Published in 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book of any kind to be printed from movable metal type, and kicked off what’s now known as the “Gutenberg Revolution”.
There are only 49 copies of Gutenberg in existence today, and only 21 of them are complete. In 1987 Japanese bookseller Maruzen bought an incomplete version for $5.4 million. Then they learned Gideons give Bibles away for free.
If you want to see a Gutenberg for yourself, just go to the Gutenberg Museum in the quaint town of Mainz, Germany. I’ve been and saw three of them for 5 Euros.
7. Toughest Bible (Real Men Wear Scripture)
Yeah, the Tough Bible of 2014 was an urban myth. And honorable mention goes to John Phillips in Iowa. But five generations of British soldier Leonard Knight’s family preserved a German WW1 bullet embedded in the Oxford Bible that stopped it cold. Oh, and it also saved Leonard’s life (that’s where the ‘5 generations’ part comes in).
Leonard was only 17 when he put the Bible in his uniform’s breast pocket and lept into battle. Then he took a shot center mass from a German rifle. The bullet hit Leonard’s Bible and stopped 50 pages from the end, probably around 2 Peter.
But we all know Leviticus did the heavy lifting here: that book stops almost anything.
6. Most Millennial Bible (Okay, Boomer)
Yes, even the most widely translated work in history received a 21st-century update with the publication of the King James Bible into Emoji.
So yes, there’s an app for that (sigh). All this technology and translation work and we’re back to hieroglyphics? No, it’s actually deeper than that. The Emoji Bible Now (available on the App Store for free) was a response to declining rates of religious affiliation in the Millennial generation.
As it turns out, a May 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found “much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations of religious activity within the US population.” Anything that brings people to the Bible can’t be all bad, right?
5. Cleanest Bible (Take a Bath, Hippy)
We all have that messy friend or relative. And if you don’t have one, that hot mess is YOU.
Originally designed for soldiers in the field, Bardin & Marshee Publishing’s ESV Waterproof Bible contains both the Old and New Testament, with synthetic pages sewn and glued into the spine. It’s just daring you to catch these hands or throw them in a bathtub. Punk.
You can write on the Waterproof Bible’s pages with a ballpoint pen or dry highlighter, but for some reason, fountain pens and wet highlighters don’t work (wait…).
Ink has no chance of bleeding through to the next page, and in case you drop it in a pool or river, the darn thing FLOATS. And for you version sticklers, it’s available in ESV, NIV, KJV, NKJV, and Cool Ranch.
4. Farthest Bible (To the Moon, Alice!)
In 1971, St. Christopher Episcopal Church in League City, Texas, gave a Bible to David Scott, who took it with him on a business trip. They’re not getting it back. Ever.
That's because he left it at work. On the Moon. You see, David Scott was the 7th person to ever walk on the Moon, what with him being Commander of the Apollo 15 space mission and all. Sure, Edgar Mitchell took 100 microfilm KJV Bibles during Apollo 14, but he brought all of them back to Earth. But Scott wanted to spread the Word as far as humanity could go. Take that, Gideons!
And that’s where it remains today: on the control panel of the Lunar Rover, safely parked in the Moon’s Sea of Showers, between Hadley Rille and the Apennine Mountains. As far as anybody knows, this is the only Bible outside of the Earth.
3. Most Beautiful Bible (Betty or Veronica?)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and far be it from me to tell you what’s the most beautiful Bible in history. Nah, it’s my list and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.
Prior to Gutenberg ruining the scribing game for thousands of monks in 1455, Bibles were illuminated by hand in monasteries dedicated to good chants and seriously impressive, OCD-levels of illustration and hand lettering.
A “Best Of” list for this kind of thing is impossible. Still, the Bible of Federico da Montefeltro, the Bible of Borso d'Este, the Wenceslas Bible, and the Morgan Crusader Bible are prime examples of Bibles that are not only high theology but also high art.
And that’s the problem. High art belongs on high walls in high-priced museums. The Bible is a gritty, visceral account of love, murder, disasters, slavery, faithfulness, war, peace, adultery, forgiveness, sacrifice, redemption, loving enemies, and good defeating evil. It even has a talking donkey somewhere.
No, the Bible is a page-turner that earns its dog-eared pages, cracked spines, notes in margins, and indulgent highlighting. Post-It notes were invented for this specific book. So the most beautiful Bible is no mint edition case queen: it’s read, studied, and read again. With the scars to prove it.
2. Most Dangerous Bible (Location, Location, Location)
Every year the Open Doors Foundation creates the World Watch List for the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians. For 2023 those countries are:
North Korea (Communist/post-communist oppression /Agnosticism)
Somalia (Islamic/Clan oppression)
Yemen (Islamic oppression)
Eritrea (Dictatorial paranoia/Islamic oppression)
Libya (Islamic oppression)
Nigeria (Islamic and Ethno-religious hostility)
Pakistan (Islamic/Clan oppression)
Iran (Islamic oppression)
Afghanistan (Islamic oppression)
Sudan (Islamic/Clan oppression)
In this Worst Top Ten List Ever (until next year), all listed countries actively persecute, imprison or kill Christians for practicing their faith. Being found in possession of any Bible (beautiful or not) means death or the gulag, with some punishments extending to the third generation. Yet despite these clear and present dangers, believers in these hellscapes are still hungry for the Word.
1.0 Most Important Bible (If You Can’t Be With the One You Love, Love the One You’re With!)
Famous photographer Chase Jarvis once said, “the best camera is the one that's with you.” Whether it’s a cellphone camera, a drug store disposable, or a Hasselblad 907X 50C Medium Format Mirrorless, whatever you have with you is the best tool to frame your visual world.
It’s the same with the Bible. The one you have with you, be it a cellphone app, Amazon Kindle, first edition KJV, or a Travelodge “Hot Gideon”, that Bible is the Most Important Bible in the World for you. That is the tool to help frame your life and provide health, hope, and healing to your soul.
Now stop reading this and go read that.