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What Not to Read–The C.S. Lewis Bible

Call me a curmudgeon if you will, but the idea of a Bible peppered with notes drawn from the works of C.S. Lewis strikes me as troubling. HarperCollins has just produced such a tome. Yes, I’ve seen people carrying around their NASCAR Bible or Hunters Bible, but those editions simply graft on a few features. The C.S. Lewis Bible raises the quotations of Lewis–and fine quotations they are–to a near-scripture level.

Of course, annotated Bibles have a long history. The Geneva Bible carried a host of Reformation-supporting marginal notes. The Scofield Reference Bible gave new life to the King James Version when it appeared in 1909. That Bible, with its embrace of Dispensationalism, raised a single theological construct to a point where it seemed the only one.

The Bible can benefit from judicious footnotes. I might want to know what a denarius was or read an explanation of the wordplay when Jesus teaches. These strike me as rather straight-forward notes. The comments of C.S. Lewis upon various passages of scripture or the themes that they convey are not straight-forward notes. These are interpretations that can muddy the waters from a text that has proven, for centuries, its ability to meet a willing reader on its own terms. I wouldn’t buy a Jonathan Edwards Bible, a John Bunyan, a Billy Graham Bible, or a Georg Muller Bible, despite my admiration for these men. I won’t be indulging in the Flannery O’Connor Bible, despite the appeal of the idea.

Neither will I be buying a C.S. Lewis Bible. Read C.S. Lewis. Read the Bible. But don’t mistake the two for each other.

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