Sunday, January 25, 2009

inaugural bibles

I can't resist an update to my last blog on the Bibles being used for the Inauguration of President Obama. First, two pictures of that moment with President Obama's hand on Abraham Lincoln's Bible:

(photo taken by Elise Amendola for the AP Pool)

(photo was taken by Chuck Kennedy; more photos of the Inauguration can be found through the Boston Globe's The Big Picture--the page will take a few moments to load.)

Together, these two photos give a wonderful sense of the moment--Barack Obama's hand on the Bible, his family with him all beaming with joy. Of course, what the pictures can't show are the words being spoken. Words that, as we all know, were not exactly as they should have been and that had to be repeated, "out of an abundance of caution," the following day. There's a lot that could be said about oaths and speech act theory. But this is a blog about books.

I stand by my earlier assertion that it was the presence of Lincoln's Bible that made explicit the connection between the two Presidents and the hopes that are riding on Obama's presidency. But the Bible that seemed to be draw the most attention that day was Vice-President Biden's, that big family tome with the great clasps:

(photo taken by Mark Wilson for the AP Pool)

I make that assertion based on the number of hits my blog got from viewers googling for more information. I got 68 visits from a combination of 44 keywords related to Biden and Bible. But I got just about no hits for surfers looking for more information on the Bible Obama used. Why was that? The bigger Bible gets the most attention? Biden is more interesting than Obama? Clasps are better than red velvet? The obvious answer is that the media had covered the story about Lincoln's Bible, repeatedly. But most of the country had not heard about Biden's family Bible. When faced with something that visible and that unknown, Google is your friend. And now, thanks to the internet and cable news, Biden's Bible is famous. And some lucky surfers now know more about early modern books than when they started.

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