Up for Auction: Bible Gifted to Manager Brian Epstein by George Harrison in 1964

Info via Heritage Auctions:

George Harrison Signed Bible Gifted to Beatles Manager Brian Epstein (circa 1964). A vintage original 512-page pocket edition of the New Testament, published by the American Bible Society. Titled in gold gilt lettering with black morocco covers. Inscribed on the inside cover by George Harrison, for all the Beatles, "To Brian, Happy Birthday from George, Paul, Ringo, John." This was originally a gift to George Harrison, it was inscribed on the inside back cover in red pencil, "To George, From teenagers, First Baptist Church, Dallas." This small item encapsulates a much broader and significant tie to all things religious in the Beatles' story.

On a plane ride after the September 18, 1964 concert in Dallas, Harrison presented the bible to manager Brian Epstein just after midnight on his 30th birthday.

The 2.75" x 4.5" Bible is additionally marked and annotated by the teenagers throughout in red pencil denoting various passages from books, including page 163 where a box is drawn around a passage from the Book of St. Luke 18, Verse 13 that reads, "And the publican standing afar off, would not lift so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." This is annotated in the margin, "Pray a prayer like this." And Romans, Chapter 6, verse 23: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," along with other verses on repentance.

The teenagers were underscoring passages for the Fabs as they were trying to save their souls with a plan of Christian salvation. This is an early example of the Beatles' on-going dealing with fervent religious youth in America, a foreshadowing of the epic struggle between morality and the Beatles. It was the end of the button-down era of crew cuts, ushering in an era of war, sexual revolution, and psychedelia. And this was before the "More Popular Than Jesus" fiasco in 1966, the burning of Beatles records, and the eventual cultural shift to a less religious and more secular America. Ultimately, many of these same church kids would be sporting long hair and tie-dyed shirts in the hippie culture.

It also is a glimpse into the wry, offbeat humor of George Harrison who appears to be poking fun at organized religion. And no doubt, all the Beatles were in on the joke. Ironically, George would dismiss these Christian bible teachings to present them as a gag gift to their Jewish manager, but later George would become a quasi-spiritual voice for "My Sweet Lord."

Epstein kept this from 1964 until his death, and it is referenced in the book, The Brian Epstein Story.