JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 24, 2013– Two Union University donors recently provided funds for a 1613 edition of the King James Version of the Bible to be displayed in the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies.
Linda Shoaf, a member of Union’s Board of Trustees, and her husband, David, donated funds for the Bible, which arrived in early September from a bookstore in Scotland.
The Shoafs also donated funds about 12 years ago to provide Union a copy of the Geneva Bible, said Ray Van Neste, a professor of biblical studies and the director of the Ryan Center. The Bible arrived soon after the Ryan Center opened and launched a collection of centuries-old Bibles on display.
“Union has been blessed by the generosity of David and Linda Shoaf through the years,” Union President David S. Dockery said. “The gift of the two Bibles is exemplary of their marvelous kindness to and support for Union.”
Van Neste said the KJV was first printed in 1611, but the early copies were folio editions – a much larger version of the Bible used in church pulpits. The first quarto edition, or smaller size, of the KJV was not printed until 1613.
“The 1613 KJV is the first edition of a personal or family Bible,” Van Neste said. “That fits what we’re striving for in the display – the Bible coming to the every-day person.”
The Ryan Center displays other Bibles as well, including a hexapla, which contains six English translations of the Bible as well as the Greek New Testament. This particular copy was originally owned by one of the men who worked with William Wilberforce to end slavery.
“It’s a serious study Bible, but it also played a part in impacting culture,” Van Neste said. “These Bibles represent what we’re trying to do here at Union.”
The Ryan Center’s collection of Bibles can be viewed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
By Beth Byrd