What Is the Proper Way to Dispose of an Old Bible?

Old Hands on an Antique Bible

RichLegg / Getty Images

If you've been a Christian for any length of time, you've probably wondered what to do with old Bibles that are no longer used or Bibles that are worn out and falling apart. You'd like to know if there is a biblical way to respectfully dispose of these volumes as an alternative to simply throwing them away.

The Scriptures provide no instructions regarding how to dispose of an old Bible. While God's word is holy and to be honored (Psalm 138:2), there's nothing sacred or hallowed in the physical materials of the book: paper, parchment, leather, and ink. Believers are to cherish and respect the Bible, but not worship or idolize it.

Important Tip: Before You Discard or Donate

No matter the manner or method you choose to discard or donate an old Bible, be sure to take a moment to check it for papers and notes that may have been written or placed inside over the years. Many people keep sermon notes, precious family records, and other important documents and references inside the pages of their Bible. You may want to hang on to this irreplaceable information.

In Judaism, a damaged Torah scroll that is beyond repair must be buried in a Jewish cemetery. The ceremony involves a small coffin and a burial service. In the Catholic faith, there is a custom of disposing of Bibles and other blessed items either by burning or by burial. However, there is no mandated church law on the proper procedure.

Discarding an old Christian Bible is a matter of personal conviction. Believers should prayerfully consider the options and do what feels most respectful. While some may prefer to keep cherished copies of the Good Book for sentimental reasons, if a Bible is truly worn or damaged beyond use, it can be disposed of in whatever manner one's conscience dictates.

Often, however, an old Bible can be repaired easily, and many organizations—churches, prison ministries, and charities—are set up to recycle and reuse them.

If your Bible has significant sentimental value, you might want to consider having it restored. A professional book restoration service can likely repair an old or damaged Bible back to nearly new condition.

How to Donate or Recycle Used Bibles

Countless Christians cannot afford to purchase a new Bible, so a donated Bible is a valuable gift. Before you throw away an old Bible, think about giving it to someone or donating it to a local church or ministry. Some Christians like to offer old Bibles free of charge at their own yard sales.

The idea to keep in mind is that the Word of God is precious. Old Bibles should be permanently retired only if they truly can no longer be used.

What to Do With Old Bibles

Here are several additional options and ideas for passing along old or unused Bibles.

  • BibleSenders.org: Bible Senders accepts new, slightly used, recycled, and old Bibles in any language. No Bibles with ripped, torn, loose, or missing pages, please. Donated Bibles will be sent free of charge to anyone who asks. Visit BibleSenders.org for specific mailing instructions.
  • Bible Foundation Network for Sending Bibles: This network distributes Bibles, holds Bible drives, collections, transportation, etc.
  • Prison Alliance (Formerly Christian Library International): The goal of Prison Alliance is to advance Christ’s light in prisons. They collect used Christian books and Bibles and distribute them to prisons in all 50 states. They also offer receipts for tax deduction purposes. Instructions for donating books and Bibles can be found here. Go one step further and volunteer by writing letters to inmates.
  • Love Packages: Love Packages aims to put Christian literature and Bibles into the hands of people around the world who are hungry for God's Word. They accept new or used Bibles, tracts, reference books, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, concordances, Christian fiction and nonfiction (adult or children's), Christian magazines, daily devotionals, Sunday school supplies, CDs, DVDs, puzzles, Bible games, puppets, and more. Learn about their mission to glorify God through the distribution of the word of God to hungry hearts throughout the world.
  • Master Bible Collection/Distribution Centers in U.S.A. and Canada: Find a list of Bible collection and distribution centers in the United States and Canada. New, used, recycled, and old Bibles (even parts of Bibles) can be sent to locations on this list. Be sure to make contact before sending.
  • Local Churches: Many local churches accept used Bibles for congregation members in need.
  • Missions Organizations: Try contacting missions organizations to see if they are accepting Bibles.
  • Christian Schools: Many Christian schools will accept gently used Bibles.
  • Local Prisons: Consider contacting your local prison or correctional facility and ask to speak to the chaplain. Prison chaplains often need resources for ministering to inmates.
  • Local Libraries: Some local libraries may accept donated old Bibles.
  • Nursing Homes: Many nursing homes are looking for donated Bibles.
  • Bookstores and Thrift Stores: Used bookstores and thrift stores may accept old Bibles for resale.
  • Shelters: Homeless shelters and feeding centers often accept old Bibles.
Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "What Is the Proper Way to Dispose of an Old Bible?" Learn Religions, Apr. 4, 2022, learnreligions.com/proper-way-to-dispose-of-an-old-bible-700233. Fairchild, Mary. (2022, April 4). What Is the Proper Way to Dispose of an Old Bible? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/proper-way-to-dispose-of-an-old-bible-700233 Fairchild, Mary. "What Is the Proper Way to Dispose of an Old Bible?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/proper-way-to-dispose-of-an-old-bible-700233 (accessed May 28, 2022).