Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mary Jacob Jones

It feels like everything I've been writing about lately falls into the "junk drawer" category so I thought I'd go to Wikipedia for inspiration. Plus, that will allow me to check off 1/10 of No. 63.

(Also in "101 things" news, a) Matt and I watched the first "Godfather" last night AND I LIKED IT and b) I joined the Arbor Day Foundation, which comes with 10 free trees to plant on Arbor Day.)

According to today's random article, the British and Foreign Bible Society got its start around 1800 because of a Welsh girl named Mary Jacob Jones who saved money for six years to buy a Bible of her own. (Otherwise, the nearest copy was at a farm two miles from her home.)

When she finally had enough money, at 16 years old, she walked 25 miles barefoot to a minister who was the only person in the vicinity who sold Bibles. Unfortunately, she arrived only to find that all of his Bibles were sold or spoken for.

In one version of this story, Mary was so upset that the minister relented and sold her one that someone else had claimed. In another version, she waited there two days until another supply of Bibles came in.

Whichever is true, Mary's intense desire for her own Bible made such an impression on the minister that he was inspired to ask the Council of the Religious Tract Society to form a group to supply Bibles to Wales.

This reminded me of an article I read a couple of days ago about how, since 91 percent of U.S. households already have a Bible, Bible publishers are focusing on keeping sales up by "making sure God's word looks hip, sounds relevant and is advertised all over."

Apparently their strategy (which rubs me the wrong way -- I'm so sick of U.S. churches' desperate attempts to be perceived as cool and relevant) is working: An estimated 25 million Bibles are sold a year, compared with 14 million copies of the latest "Harry Potter" book (in the United States) and 3 million copies of 2007's No. 2 book, "The Secret."


Libba Lemon said...

Apparently the hip part worked on me - I have both a teal Bible and a lime green mini-Bible! 25 million Bibles sold annually is so much higher than I ever would have guessed. That's amazing.

Thanks for sharing the really interesting topic! Can't wait for the other 9.

jennifer said...

I have a random assortment too. We have life-application Bibles, study Bibles, Bibles for teenagers, an FCA Bible, a one-year Bible, my first Bible (Precious Moments-themed) ... it's crazy!