An Out-of-this-world Bible

—Written by Mark A. Kellner

It’s so rare, only eleven are believed to exist.

And its history is truly out of this world: A microform edition of the Bible that went to the surface of the moon—and came back. Yet this past July 26, no one bid for the rarity. To say the least, that’s a curious outcome, given the item’s history.

As Religion News Service reported, the “Lunar Bible” was offered by Nate D. Sanders Auctions of Los Angeles at a minimum bid of $50,000. It was created by a group called the Apollo Prayer League, begun by a NASA employee and ordained minister named John Stout.

What Stout wanted to do was fulfill the wish of the late Edward White II, one of the three Apollo 1 astronauts killed when a fire tore through their capsule in 1967. White was a Christian and had expressed a desire to carry a Bible to the moon.

Following White’s death, Stout began a group that would pray for future flights as well as find a way to take a Bible to the moon and bring it back. While NASA wouldn’t officially send a Bible into space, astronauts were allowed a “personal privilege kit,” a small bag in which they could carry a limited number of items they chose.

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who commanded the lunar exploration module on Apollo 14, was also a friend of Stout and a believer. He agreed to carry the microform Bibles, which were a piece of film on which the 1,245 printed pages of a King James Bible were photographically reduced. The microform measures 1.625 inches square. You’d need a microscope to actually read the printed words, but Mitchell’s goal wasn’t to peruse the Bible in space, just to carry it to the moon and back.

Many of the American astronauts who either circled the moon or actually landed there were believers in God and in the Bible. On Christmas Eve in 1968, Jim Lovell, commander of the Apollo 8 flight that orbited the moon, read the first ten words of Genesis 1:1 as the capsule saw the “big blue marble” of earth from space: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” As United Press International writer Martin Seff noted on the 40th anniversary of that flight, the words brought a sense of calm to Americans after a 1968 of great tension in the United States, with two assassinations, a divisive presidential election, and the continuing war in Vietnam.

And Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin who, along with the late Neil Armstrong, was one of the first two men to set foot on the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, brought along a small piece of bread and a tiny chalice into which he poured a small amount of wine, taking communion there.

Nobody bid on the “Lunar Bible” by the auctioneer’s deadline. You can still buy it, however, if you’re willing to pay the $50,000 minimum bid plus a 25-percent buyer’s premium, for a total of $62,500. The firm says it does not accept credit cards, however.

There are people who collect Bibles as a personal interest. Some 250 of them belong to the International Society of Bible Collectors. That group’s journal editor, R. Michael Kuykendall, said most members are looking for the best-preserved versions of really old editions of the Bible, such as the sixteenth-century Geneva Bible, an early English language version. Some deep-pocketed collectors might be interested in a Bible that’s been to the moon, he conceded.

But is the value of the Bible found in how or when it was printed, or where it was carried, or by whom? Or is the Bible’s true worth to be discerned in the power of Scripture to reach and reform the reader?

You can guess our answer: However nice it might be to hold, or even own, a rare Bible, perhaps one carried and used by a noted Christian leader, it is the contents of the Bible that are without price. Whether the Bible you carry is bound in the finest leather, or is a digital application on your smartphone, or a paperback from the dollar store, its words contain the key to success and happiness in this life—and to eternal happiness in the world to come.

How can you discover these keys if you haven’t found them already? Amazing Facts has two FREE Bible Study courses you can complete online. “Storacles of Prophecy” will teach you how the Bible’s ancient prophecies have come true, and will be realized in the near future. Our Study Guide lessons will help you find Bible answers to life’s challenges. Both courses can be found online here and again, both are free of charge. What you learn, however, could be worth far more than a Bible that’s been to the moon.

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