The Scofield Reference Bible


In recent days, it has become very common to have a bible with notes on the sides of the pages or a chain reference section running down the center of the page. But, believe it or not, this has not always been available to the general population or to ministers. Cyrus Scofield’s Reference Bible was a continuation of a similar work started in England, from where this idea came by J. N. Darby. (Davis, 6) And then also from a man named, Dr. R. A. Torrey, who suggested that the notes be accessible and readable to the regular people. (Goss, 3) Oxford University Press published the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909 and since then there have been several editions. Oxford Press has reported the over 10 million copies of this work have been sold. (Boyer, 98) This is a staggering number to think about.


It is interesting to examine from where Cyrus Scofield received his knowledge of the Bible, considering he had no formal religious training. The notes on the Bible offered in the margins largely represented the views of the Premillennial Dispensationalism that he helped further in popularity.  The “Plymouth Brethren” were a group of men who held these same beliefs and helped Cyrus form his opinions about how the world is constructed. They were the main contributors and supporters of the Bible’s production. (Davis, 2)


The Bible was just a figment of the imagination for years before the actual publication. In fact it was during Scofield’s first pastorate in Dallas at a conference he was speaking at that he first heard “the call” to write such a commentary. He had the first work published in 1909 and it soon became a well known piece of writing, there were a few problems with it though. A Mr. William Isaac read the commentary and submitted seventeen different theological problems. They were corrected in the 1917 edition of the Scofield Reference Bible. (Gaebelein)


In the year 1930, the Oxford University Press made known that the Scofield Reference Bible had become the first book published by them to sell over one million copies of any book. (Goss, 4) The 1937 and the 1945 editions only gained more sales for the Press. In 1967, the New Scofield Reference Bible was published in combination with the New King James version of the Bible. And soon after, several other versions of the Bible were added to the collection.


Some of the theological positions that Scofield, and other’s like him distributed included many political positions, after all, Scofield was an “attorney.” Communism was a big scare during the “cold war” but, maybe long before that, people should have been on the watch for communistic ideals. Scofield continually wrote about the “brotherhood of man” and the “fatherhood of God.” These are common ideas of communism.


The Scofield Reference Bible, no matter what version of the Bible it is connected with, shares the same basic theology and is still very popular today. The only reason that I have a problem with someone reading these Bibles is that one should not confuse the actual text of the Bible and the “helps” of another person. Having them on the same page as the scripture can tend to confuse people and misdirect them in the truths that the Bible holds.

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