The Pastor Terry Jones is no innovator in the business of book burning. His own Bible offers a Holy precedent attributed to Paul in the Book of Acts:
19Many of them (Jews and Greeks of Ephesus) also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver, (about $5,000,000 in 2010 US dollars).
Even in Biblical times torching texts was old hat. The Chinese, who like to claim firsties on almost everything, may well deserve the honor in this case. More than two centuries before Paul’s reported book BBQ, Shi Huang, the first emperor of the short-lived Qin dynasty, ordered the burning of all books on philosophy and history.
Perhaps hatred of books is not the only trait Reverend Jones shares with the legalist emperor; he seems to enjoy a similar aversion to history, for if he knew anything about history he would know that book burners have always gotten a bad press. The list of more renowned manuscript maulers includes some real villains, starting with China’s Shi Huang and carried on by such notable baddies as Uthman the third Caliph of Islam, Mongol Möngke Khan, Torquemada of the Spanish Inquisition, and, of course the great madmen of the modern era, Hitler, Stalin and Mao.
The oddest case took place last year under amazingly similar circumstance at the Amazing Grace Church of Canton, North Carolina. The bizarre irony here is that this libricidal maniac was cremating The Good Book itself, on the basis that all Bibles other than the King James Version are heretical – and, like Jones, he cited Acts 19 as his authority.