Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bible Marginalia--The JS Bach Bible

A recent visit at Concordia Seminary 
allowed the wives of the LCMS Presidium
 and District Pastors to see the JS Bach Bible.
The Bach Bible also has a Bible commentary. 
Abraham Calovius added notes and commentaries 
to the Bible text. 
For these notes,
 he drew on the works of Martin Luther. 
Bach's signature from 1733.
The Bible is in three volumes,
 each with his signature and date. 
There contain 348 underlinings, 
marks of emphasis, 
and marginalia in Bach's handwriting.
This has been proven by handwriting
 and chemical analysis. 
The three volume set was
 printed in 1681 in Wittenberg. 
Bach lived from 1685- 1750. 
 Martin Luther lived from 1483- 1546. 
Abraham Calovius was the editor.
The Bibles have pigskin covers 
with clasps. (Missing)  
They are kept in boxes in a safe 
at Concordia Lutheran Seminary 
in St Louis, MO.
My husband, John, remembers seeing them
 on display when he was at this seminary.
(Graduated 1980)
They are not on display very often at this time.
The special discovery of the volumes
 were made in June 1934. 
 A Lutheran minister, Christian G. Riedel,
was attending a session of the Missouri-Synod
 of the American Lutheran Church
 in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
 He was staying with his cousin Leonard Reichle.
 His cousin showed him a Bible
 and Riedel recognized Bach's signature.
 Reichle then later found
 the other 2 volumes in his attic.
 His family had purchased 
the 3 volume Calov Bible 
in Philadelphia in the 1830's.

Reichle donated the three-volume set
 to the Concordia Seminary Library
 in St. Louis, Missouri in October 1938.
 Only after the upheaval of World War II 
was the Bible made known for Bach scholarship. 
Bach has many notations 
in the margins of the Bible.
Some are clarifications, his own thoughts,
 and even a correction or two.
 Here is 2 Chronicles 5:13.
 Bach wrote-
 "Where there is devotional music, 
God is always present with his grace."
So what is the significance
 to a Bible Journaling 
community centuries later?
There was significant denial through the ages
about Bach as a man of faith.
His Bible certainly shows a man 
that spent time in the Word.
 The margins met his points of confirmed belief
 as well as a place to wrestle with understanding.
Margins do that..... 
they become the human response to
Margins become a part of a legacy.
A testimony.
Tracing the notes of ownership.
Something about the preservation of the Word.
Eternal significance for humans.
And a place for heart notes
 to God's Love letter to us.
Special thanks to  Lyle Buettner -
Special Collections Librarian
 for helping us to set up this wonderful visit.
Concordia Publishing House 
has a book that tells the story 
of the JS Bach Bible.
It is available here:

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