The fact that I know the Bible as well as I do seems to be an inevitability of my lineage. My grandfather, who was born in 1911 in rural Arkansas and only went to school through the third grade died when I was seven, though he remains the most deeply intelligent man I've ever known in my entire life. Since I had a single mom who worked, I spent much of my childhood at my grandparents' house, and remember that each afternoon, my grandfather would sit at the head of the dining room table with his Bible and his books and his notebooks spread around him. His hands shook, maybe because of age or maybe because of some side-effect of the diabetes that eventually killed him, but either way, writing was a chore for him. He wrote with his right hand and tried to hold it steady with his left, which must have been an incredible nuisance, but not enough of one to keep him from recording his notes on his reading. When he died, my mother inherited his beloved books.
My mother was educated at a seminary and spent much of her early adulthood teaching. These days, she spends her mornings with her Bible, reading. When I was growing up, I of course went to church every Sunday. When I was in 4th grade, the day before spring break, I got busted for lying and my mom made me spend the entire week I was off school with a Bible and a concordance writing down every verse on lies, lying and liars, and I had to recite a new one from memory every day when she came home from work. I would've much preferred being grounded like normal kids, but normal was not our kind of thing. It was probably a much more effective punishment, anyway. Do you know how many verses I had to write? I don't either, but it was a lot.
Anyway, I got this Bible one year for Christmas. Maybe I was 18? I'm not sure. I call it my preacher Bible because it's this huge black leather-bound monstrosity that weighs about a billion pounds and seems like it would be good for banging on a pulpit. (A billion pounds? How do I lift it? Well, as one of my uncles charmingly says, I am strong like an ox. No really, that's what he says. I guess that means you probably don't want to arm-wrestle me.) It is stuffed full of scraps of paper on which I have taken notes and also full of underlined passages and writing in the margins, because I am a big fan of writing all over my books -- each one is like its own diary. Though I'm not particularly religious and I haven't been to church in awhile (I don't think I'll ever stop going entirely; it's nice having an extra family), I am grateful for the love of study and the knowledge of this book that has been instilled in me by my family. No matter what I believe at any given point in time, I can always find something good to read here. There was a time when I thought I would follow in my mother's footsteps and get further education at a seminary, but I changed my mind since I'm really too much of an argumentative, opinionated smartass liberal to fit in, probably.
Also, since I was an English major, I sometimes get into exegesis just for kicks when I'm bored. You know, because I'm a nerd.