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Moon Bible goes on sale in auction
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell (left) shakes hands with the Rev. John Stott, NASA’s then-chaplain.
September 22nd, 2011
10:34 AM ET

Moon Bible goes on sale in auction

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - A rare Bible that's been to the moon and back will have a new owner Thursday night - the complete King James version, framed in gold leaf, is under the hammer at an auction house in New Hampshire.

But whoever takes it home won't be able to leaf through it. It's a piece of microfilm, with the text of 1,245 pages shrunken down to the size of a postage stamp.

"It's the whole King James (Bible) on there. It's really cool," says Bobby Livingston, vice president of sales and marketing at RR Auction, which is handling the sale.

The Bible was taken into space three times before it reached the lunar surface, he said - first on Apollo 12, when it was stored in the wrong part of the spaceship and orbited the moon, but didn't land on it, then on the ill-fated Apollo 13, which had an explosion on board that forced it to turn back, and finally on Apollo 14.

Lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell brought 100 microfilmed copies of the Bible to the surface of the moon on February 5, 1971, Livingston said.

"Most of them were given away when they came back, or were cut into pieces as presentation pieces for dignitaries from the U.S. and from other states," Livingston explained. At least a dozen complete versions still exist.

Bringing a Bible to the moon had been a dream of a group of committed believers in the space program since the beginning of the Apollo mission efforts to reach the moon, said Carol Mersch, author of "The Apostles of Apollo."

"Through the centuries, explorers have carried the Bible across countries to far off lands, pushing the boundaries of exploration. It was not unnatural then that NASA chaplain John Stout and a group called The Apollo Prayer League would undertake a quest to see it carried to another celestial body," she said.

Apollo 1 astronaut Ed White wanted to bring the first Bible to the moon, but died in a fire on the launch pad, Mersch said.

"After his death, fellow astronauts and The Apollo Prayer League took up White's quest, so that, as Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin said, 'those who came after would know that we came from a world of believers,'" Mersch told CNN.

The moon Bible now under the hammer went from Mitchell, the astronaut, to a "well-known space collector from Texas," Livingston said.

He expects it to go for about $50,000 by the time the auction closes at 7 p.m. ET Thursday.

At least one top Bible-collecting expert said he wasn't interested at that price.

Scott Carroll, the director of the Green Collection, one of the world's largest collections of ancient texts, called the moon Bible an "oddity."

"You could pick up a 13th-century Bible for that (price), so it's a tough call," he said.

It wouldn't make a good piece for museum display, he said, because it's so small.

"You gaze into it and say 'wow,' but you can't see anything," he said.

But there will be some people who want to buy it, either as an investment or out of personal interest, Carroll said.

"Of course people who may be people of faith that are interested in astronomy, in aerospace exploration, it would be of great interest," he said.

Several of the Apollo astronauts were just such men, RR Auction's Livingston said.

"What's really interesting about Mitchell is he said he had an epiphany looking out the window" of Apollo 14, Livingston said. "It's not just the death-defying part of it. They talk of the spirituality of the moment of being on the moon, the moment of standing on another planetary body."

Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan, one of the last men to walk on the moon, put it starkly, Livingston said.

"He said to me, 'Bobby, I know infinity exists,'" Livingston recalls. The auctioneer asked how Cernan knew, and got a simple answer: "I've seen it."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Bible • Science

soundoff (654 Responses)
  1. Geoz

    Astronomical waste.

    September 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  2. Notagain

    That is so cool. Next is to send missionaries to convert those cheese-eating barbarian moon men...

    September 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  3. Sinner Redeemed

    I've seen people 60 seconds away from their last breath, with no faith to hang onto. It was awful to see that kind of fear.

    September 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • no

      You were watching the clock while someone was taking their last breath? Wow.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Geoz

      I've seen women, afraid to leave their abusive husbands because of faith, living in fear. Now what?

      September 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Patrick

      I've seen children raped by priests because of their faith, now what?

      September 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Free

      I think that, maybe, you're reading too much into the suspense and anticipation of the moment, because I've seen people jump in scary movies too, but that doesn't prove that monsters are real, right?

      September 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  4. Kenrick Benjamin

    MarkinFl
    The tree of knowledge is not what cause there death, it was God's Commandment which they fail to adhere to. Disobedience.

    September 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • PulTab

      "their"

      September 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • The Guy

      "god's"

      September 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  5. Joepub

    FYI, colleges were started by the church. Should we get rid of colleges too?

    September 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Dumb comment, try again when you have something legit to say.

      NEXT!

      September 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Geoz

      Some were. Some weren't.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Joepub

      Sorry Chuckles, just because you have apathy and are too lazy to do research, does not make my comment dumb or illegitimate. You are starting to make yourself look foolish.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  6. John

    Now what would be cool is if when they got to the moon they found a bible there. Perhaps even the Ten Commandments etched into a stone. That's the sort of thing God used to do...

    September 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  7. AtheistSteve

    Many of us grew up within some form of Christian faith. The Bibles stories and passages, messages and teachings from creation to Noah to Moses to Jesus to the apocalypse of revelation all accepted on faith with equal measures of hopeful expectation and terror. The path to Atheism is different for each of us. Easy for some and harder for others, but in the end a realization that God is a man made concept becomes impossible to deny. Then something wonderful happens. Suddenly the world makes sense. The Bible is reduced to meaningless nonsense. Nothing it says is relevant. Life becomes far more precious, delicate and unique. The universe far more complex and interesting. Differences and hate based on religion, race, creed, nationality, culture, s3x, s3xual orientation, human rights, reproductive rights, child development and ecological responsibility suddenly appear petty and foolish. Love is fuller and unfettered by guilt. Moral decisions become clear and balanced. Freed from the shackles of fear and false promises a huge burden is shed and one feels truly alive for the first time. I speak for myself but know that many share my experience. Believe whatever you wish and cling to your faith if you so choose so long as your beliefs don't usurp my freedom to choose for myself how to live this one and only journey of discovery.

    September 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Jonnn

      Very well said! I too feel the same way.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • John

      I agree, but the only problem is that once you take this road, you become burdened with being a humanist - and so suddenly you feel for other people in a way that people who believe in separate souls do not.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Dan of The Prophecy Society

      We have free will to believe in God ... that is, between birth and death. God will never make anyone love him. Love of God is something that must be freely given. He set the example about how to love by loving us first.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Patrick

      "He set the example about how to love by loving us first."

      That's why he supposedly destroyed man kind once, then he continually sends hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, created diseases, created cancer, allows the ice to melt in the poles, allows the ozone layer that keeps us safe to become destroyed, etc...etc....etc....yeah...that's is NOT a loving god.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Another

      Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

      May Christ grant us His mercy, truth, forgiveness, love, and peace.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Dan of The Prophecy Society

      Sorry but your belief doesn't hold water under scrutiny. I crawled kicking and screaming out of the pit of illusions you think are real and feel enlightened beyond measure at the realization. Ever wonder how what God wants, loves and hates matches exactly the same as what you want, love and hate? That's because your God is all in your head...an extension of your own persona.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  8. Colin

    NASA had a chaplin? Did they also have a fortune-teller, witchdoctor and psychic?

    September 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Free

      Remember, in the beginning astronauts were selected for their flying ability. They didn't start training actual scientists to be astronauts until later on.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Quincey9

      What? No, but there was a Ouija board and one of those Magic 8 balls.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  9. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    I'm more intrigued by the fact he had a beard. When was the last time you saw an astronaut with a beard? Did they let him wear it to the moon, or did he have to shave it off?

    September 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  10. Byrd

    A moon bible. Best place I can think of for disposing of them all, along with its authors, other than the sun...

    September 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      can we dispose of some of the militant christians there also please?

      September 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  11. Boris

    Pretty hard to thump a stamp-sized microchip without breaking it into pieces.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  12. harbharb

    That particular text has done little or nothing to promote scientific and technological advancements of humankind. People have advanced in spite of it's messages of fear of and dependancy on a being alleged to be vastly superior. For some it has been a text that has inspired people to do well and to serve others. It has more often had the opposite effect when it comes to scientific endeavors and technological advancement. More often than not the result is this–don't think for yourself, don't try to succeed.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  13. naturechaplain

    I finally get it! Geez I'm slow. We can now not only claim the moon for America (remember that flag?) but for God, Jesus and All Other American Heroes! Halle-Nasa-lujah!

    September 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Byrd

      Let them call and shout halleluna all they like...Sound doesn't travel very far in space or on the moon, so it won't bother us at all...

      Excellent idea, naturechaplain. Not too shabby at all. Ain't imagination! grand!

      September 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  14. Jonathan

    And here we go. Atheists calling Christians stupid, Christians telling Atheists they're going to Hell. Standard commenting fare for a religious story. Everyone making one of those comments needs to read this. http://www.cracked.com/article_15759_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

    September 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Free

      You're right! Most of us atheists have no problem with the vast majority of Christians, especially the ones who come from mainstream denominations. What we share with those Christians, however, is our dislike of being labeled 'immoral' and 'sinner' just because we disagree with the Christians who insist that only they know the truth of things. So, I agree with you in that we really should band together in our opposition to rigid fundamentalism, the kind that refuses to take the Bible in it's proper historical and cultural context. They themselves may not be 'stupid', but what they are doing sure appears to be.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  15. Luke

    Tiny moon bibles for sale

    September 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  16. Patriot

    Gee, was the bible lost by one of the lost tribe of Israel. Silly. It's a friggin book having zero cultural/religious relevance to most Americans, save those with ancestry from the Levant.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  17. Darnell Fosbick

    and we care about this story because? It's a "book", oh wait not even a "real" book that went way up in the air, then into no air, then around and on a big rock, then came back to earth. Wow, it so special.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  18. Guer

    The American Church of Athiests. "Our new religion ready to hate"

    September 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Uh

      "Our new religion ready to hate""

      I thought Christians had the monopoly on hate and intolerance.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Guer

      Look around at the hate written here. Any Christian full of hate is a hypocrite.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Paul

      "Atheism is no more a religion than not collecting stamps is a hobby."

      "Atheism is no more a religion than bald is a hair color."

      -Dawkins and others

      September 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • ummm...

      "Any Christian full of hate is a hypocrite"

      Then there are a lot of hypocrites.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Guer

      Everyone reading this will one day die having never known the answers to the mysteries of why the universe came into existence, regardless what you do or don't believe. I listened to an astrophysicist declare that when it comes to explaining the origin of our universe a scientific or theological explanation just as possible because we truly don't have an answer. Looks like we will continue living in our tiny tiny corner of the universe fighting each other. No matter how much you believe or don't believe something it doesn't make it true.....that goes for everyone.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Guer

      our government identifies a religion as a group with a world view. it doesn't have to believe in a deity.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • ummm...

      "No matter how much you believe or don't believe something it doesn't make it true.....that goes for everyone."

      There are some that have posted on here saying their truth is the only correct one. Then when you factor in that these same people are trying to pass laws then it does affect everyone.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Guer

      every human being has hated and been a hypocrite. including you and i

      September 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Ponderings

      "our government identifies a religion as a group with a world view. it doesn't have to believe in a deity."

      If you look at the definition of religion one meaning is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

      You could say science is a religion. LOL! Art is a religion, etc...

      September 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Uh

      "every human being has hated and been a hypocrite. including you and i'

      I hate no one but I do hate beets but beets aren't human. Who have you hated?

      September 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Joepub

      Nope, Atheists are now trying to corner the market on hate.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Patrick

      "Atheists are now trying to corner the market on hate."

      Nah, the Christians already have that corner there's no market left to take, they've got it. We'll stick to trying to tolerate their delusional state why they spew their hateful nonsense.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Guer

      So you aren't a christian right? I guess by your definition your real religion (or is it religions?) is you're an Amuslim, Ajew, Ahindu, Abuddhist, Azoroastrian......

      September 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  19. k

    I would have stopped sending it after it sabotaged the first 2 attempts.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • svscnn

      Exactly!

      September 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  20. Bo

    @God, Hey! your suppose to be god, you are not allowed any mistakes, I said that I'm human, I admitted I made mistakes, that incldes, typos, grammer, spelling and a host of of other things incuding burnning my supper, see you later!

    September 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.