For hundreds of years, millions of bibles have been distributed during wartime and now a special exhibit is showcasing their holy journey. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
Jim Puchy, who served as a chaplain for the U.S. Army for 32 years, carried a Bible on his many missions. It's one of more than 30 on view at the Museum of Biblical Art's latest exhibition highlighting soldiers' Bibles on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It chronicles the American Bible Society's production and distribution of mostly pocket Bibles from the Civil War to present day.
"Every time I jumped out of an airplane, in the military, I had my Bible with me. As did those young rangers, that I was a chaplain for, because it does bring that kind of comfort that you need in the midst of uncertainty," says Puchy.
The American Bible Society distributed about three million copies during the Civil War, about five million copies during WWI, and about seven million copies during WWII," says Museum of Biblical Art Curator Liana Lupas.
But the exhibition is about more than numbers. Visitors can get a closer look at how in the trenches of war, Christian soldiers found solace in the scriptures.
One Bible from 1862 belonged to a soldier killed on the battlefield at the age of 20. Another early 20th century Bible is filled with notes of one soldier's many travels in the U.S. Marine corps.
"I think every soldier, when faced with a combat situation, has a journal. And many of these bibles become those kind of journals for the soldier to write their thoughts about how God is leading them and protecting them during that time," says Puchy.
Depending on the needs of the soldiers, Bibles came in all different formats. Some were packaged in waterproof envelopes, others had metal covers.
"There is a persistent myth that a metal covered New Testament worn in the breast pocket would prevent bullets from entering the heart of the soldier," says Lupas.
For more information on the exhibit, visit www.mobia.org.