Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 25, 2013, column:

Amarilloan assembles historic Bible collection

(The newspaper headline refers to Alan Arvello as an "Amarilloan." He actually lives in Canyon.)
By Mike Haynes
            Alan Arvello had an idea for Vacation Bible School two years ago. Because 2011 was the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible, he thought it would be cool to buy some facsimiles, or modern reproductions, of the 1611 KJV and of other key versions of God’s Word.
He could use those to teach the kids at Bible Believers Baptist Church how the sacred book came to us from the ancient Hebrews to modern Christianity.
When the music director and Bible teacher looked into assembling such a display, though, he was pleasantly surprised to find that buying an original page from that famous 1611 edition wasn’t out of his price range, and neither were single leaves from other noteworthy Bibles, such as Martin Luther’s 1529 German New Testament and a Latin Bible handwritten in Europe in the 1260s.
Arvello’s VBS project turned into a collection of Bibles and Bible pages that illustrates the
Alan Arvello gives a presentation about his Bible collection.
preservation of scripture through the centuries, and he has exhibited his bit of history from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to Arkansas and Las Vegas and to churches and groups across the Texas Panhandle.
“The collection is not that expensive,” he said. “I’ve spent about as much as a really nice used car. Of course, you could get into thousands of dollars. A page from the Gutenberg Bible runs over $100,000.”
The Square House Museum in Panhandle will be the next stop for Arvello, whose day job is working as a physician’s assistant. From the first week of June through July, the museum will host “The History of the Bible in America.” (Call the museum for exact dates, which aren’t definite yet.)
Visitors will see a page from the first printing of English scripture in America, a rendering of Psalm 19 with one column in English and the other in the Algonquin language. It was printed in Boston in 1709, 73 years before the first complete English Bible was published in America. A page from that 1782 Aitken Bible, authorized by Congress and distributed to Revolutionary War soldiers, also will be on display.
Apart from the American exhibit, Arvello’s collection – which he has donated to his church –
Above is the title page of a 1611 Geneva Bible in Alan Arvello's collection. It was published the same year as the first edition of the more famous King James Bible.
includes a Latin passage from Jeremiah printed in Europe in 1482, a New Testament page from William Tyndale’s English Bible of 1536 (the year Tyndale was executed for publishing the Bible in English) and examples of every major Bible leading to the King James version, printed in London 400 years ago.
Arvello and his church focus on the KJV because they believe it is the “absolute, final and sole authority” for living the Christian life. They are convinced that the primary sources of the KJV – the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Old Testament and the Textus Receptus Greek document of the New Testament – are superior to the texts used by most modern translations – the Greek Septuagint for the OT and the Alexandrian Greek for the NT.
            You don’t have to be “King James Only,” however, to appreciate this collection, which recently has expanded to include a book of sermons by Lancelot Andrews, one of the main translators of the KJV; the first American edition of “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”; and the first authorized American edition of John Wesley’s biography.
            Arvello has the enthusiasm of a collector but also the passion of a believer.
            “The main purpose is for people to understand the history of how we got the Bible in general, especially the King James Bible, and for people to appreciate the sacrifice made through the centuries for us to have the Word of God,” he said. “And also to understand the validity of the King James Bible. The lineage of the new Bibles is not the same as that of the King James.”
            For a look at the collection or to order a DVD presentation by Arvello, go to
            In our era of digital information and throw-away values, we need all the history we can get to give context to our lives.