March 18, 2009

llluminating Generosity

2009 1508 page7 capHE CURATOR LIFTED THE MODERN LEATHER-COVERED BIBLE TO A HEIGHT WHERE ALL OF US could see it. “In the thirteenth century,” he intoned, “a standard-size single volume Bible such as this would have cost almost a half million dollars in today’s money to produce.”

The religion editors and general press gathered at the opening of a new exhibit in the National Gallery of Art here in Washington, D.C., were duly impressed with the curator’s factoid. Assaulted in recent weeks by millions of words in thousands of newspaper columns about trillion-dollar budgets, we had gathered for a glimpse of a few dozen “illuminated” manuscripts—mostly Bibles—from the world before Gutenberg. These words and exquisite “illuminations”—magnificently detailed initial letters—were produced in an era when owning a single volume of any kind was a rarity.
A single Bible, even without the beautiful illuminations, was enormously expensive, requiring thousands of hours to produce.
But you, my friends, have turned all such costly valuations on their heads.
In a bare seven weeks (January 15 to March 5), your amazing generosity has provided a personal Bible and a beautiful carrying case to more than 5,000 women in India. As this edition goes to press, more than $26,000 has been given by Adventist Review readers whose imaginations were fired by the chance to provide these graduates of a church-run literacy program in India with their own copies of the Word of God. For a tiny sum—5 percent—of the cost of a single handwritten Bible eight centuries ago, you have brought the joy of words—and the greater joy of the Word—to more persons than owned a Bible anywhere in the thirteenth century.
I was the last to leave the gallery that day, reveling in the painted expressions of the value once placed upon the Word—and filled with joy for the value that this magazine’s readers still place upon the Word.
In my gallery of honor hang the shining images of hundreds of Adventist Review readers who responded to a need with speed, generosity, and love.
To learn more—and provide more Bibles—go to

Bill Knott is editor of the Adventist Review.