Monday, January 2, 2017

The Value of a Bible

Blogger: Amber Schamel

Most of us Americans own a Bible in our own language...if not several. But have you ever stopped to think about how blessed we are to have it? Let’s take a trip through history to see what a Bible in one’s own language has cost in the past.

The Torah at Jesus’ Time

During Jesus’ day, most synagogues had a copy of the Torah, like the one Jesus read from in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). However, most families did not own a copy, and if they did, it was most likely a single book rather than the entire collection of the five books of Moses, the Psalms and Prophets.

Can you imagine if you had to go to church to read the Bible at all?

The Holy texts were copied by meticulous scribes who not only threw out an entire portion of writing for a single mistake (like two letters touching), but also the portion next to it for touching the section with a mistake. Most often, the scrolls were inscribed on the skins of clean animals like sheep or goats. Considering the book of Isaiah (such as the one found in Qumran) was about 30 feet long, and the typical sheep or goat skin was only around three feet in length, the material alone would be pricey. Not to mention the scribe’s labor, which would have been at least 30 hours. According to an ancient currency scholar, a scribe charged 25 denarii per 100 lines of such writing, which would have been around 3 or 4 columns. So for the 54 columns in Isaiah, the scribe would charge somewhere around 450 denarii. 

Qumran Scrolls - Public Domain

The New Testament Church

The Gospels and the letters of Paul were much easier for common folks to acquire. They were shorter and already in the common language of the time. Many copies of these were made, and they would have been much cheaper given the use of papyrus paper rather than animal skins and the length. We could never be sure how many copies were made, but scholars have counted over 5800 in Greek. But keep in mind that every copy had to be made and delivered by hand. There were no printing presses spitting out thousands of copies of Paul’s newsletters. Considering the Apostles had thousands converted in a single day, these copies would not have sufficed very well.

The Dark Ages

After the world fell into the Dark Ages, getting a Bible in a language other than Latin was nearly impossible. In fact, if you were caught with a Bible in something other than Latin, you could be executed.

Gutenberg Bible - By NYC Wanderer (Kevin Eng) [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Even after Wycliffe, Tyndale and others had translated the Bible, it was still rare. One would have to rent a Bible to have it copied, and it took 15 months to copy it. So you had rent expense in addition to the copying expense. To have your own Bible was more than a year’s wages, and, in countries such as England, had to be smuggled in. And if you were caught with one, you’d pay with your freedom and/or life.

What about today?

Today, we can purchase a Bible for less than an hour’s wages at any local Walmart. Or even download it free on any phone or device. But I wonder if this cheapened the value of the Scriptures without us realizing it. If you had to pay $30,000 for your Bible, how much would you read it? Would you leave it on the shelf to collect dust? The Scriptures haven’t changed, the truth in them remains the same, as does the power contained in those words.

This year, I resolve in my heart to cherish my Bible and treat it as if it’s worth my life and livelihood. What about you? Do you think you cherish your Scripture as much as you should? 


Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. Interesting post and good challenge!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Sandy! Thanks for stopping by and happy New Year!

    2. Glad you enjoyed it, Sandy! Thanks for stopping by and happy New Year!

    3. Great information Amber and not the way I thought it would be presented! I always am thankful when I learn something new each day. God's continued blessings upon your life in this year of 2017!

    4. Hello Denise,
      It seems there's always something new to learn, doesn't it? Thank you for stopping by and I pray that your new year is blessed with many blessings and much learning as well.

  2. Amber, thank you for sharing this informative and thought provoking post. I was taught at an early age the Bible should be respected at all times-do not lay anything on top of the Bible, handle it with care, underline important scriptures to you and hide the words of the Bible in your heart. It grieves me when I see individuals piling items on top of a Bible or throwing it around. I have Bibles that are falling apart from using them so much but I will not pile things on top of these Bibles where I have them as keepsakes.

    A blessed and Happy New Year, Amber.

    1. I agree, Marilyn. I was brought up that way as well. My parents taught me John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The Words printed in the book are sacred, and should be treated with respect.

      I'm so glad you stopped by and took the time to comment. :) It's always good to see you.

  3. I cherish the Word more and more each year. I am beginning my 17th read-through and I can't wait to see what new truths God is going to reveal to me.

    1. Amen, Chappy. It's wonderful that you've read through it that many times.

      Revelation is important, and I believe each time we read it we can understand it better. I will pray with you on that as well.:)