This book we call The Holy Bible is not an ordinary book. It is an awesome book. It was not written like any other book, nor was it’s author like any ordinary author of our day.
The Bible may seem ordinary to much of the world’s population today, because it is so familiar to us. This book is the #1 best selling book in the world, with an estimated number of more than 5 billion copies sold. Many people have more than one copy in their homes. By contrast, the #2 best selling book in the world, China’s Communist Chairman Mao Zedong’s booklet, “Little Red Book,” has sold only 800 million copies.
The Bible may look ordinary to us, because of its size and the many different ways in which it is available to us.
- Actual book sizes that can be easily carried and held in our hands.
- In an APP on all our phones, tablets, iPads, etc.
- Recorded on CD’s
- Before CD’s, recorded on cassette tapes.
But it has not always been this way.
Let’s Look at The Bible’s Beginning
The first words recorded in the Bible are “In the beginning,” talking about the creation of the world. But, let’s stop a minute and realize that the Bible itself had its own beginning. The first book was written. Then at a later time the second book was written. And so on, until all 66 books that are in the Bible were written. In fact, the period of time from the writing of the first book – Genesis – to the last book – Revelation – is 1600 years.
First Written In Hebrew
When the Bible began to come into being, around 1400 B.C.,its books were handwritten by scribes in Hebrew, the language of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, on pieces of sheep or goat skins called parchments. These parchments were sewn together, piece by piece, into one long stretch of parchments or manuscripts. Each end of the parchment was attached to a dowel. The dowels were then rolled toward each other until they met and became a scroll. We could say they were scrolled together, or they were closed. When a scroll needed to be opened, they would be unrolled.
The size of the scroll depended on the number of parchment manuscripts. The larger the scroll the heavier and more cumbersome it became. The scrolls would be placed on shelves in a dedicated room having a number of tables in it for opening and reading them. By the time all of them had been written, it took a good-sized room in which they could be housed, i.e. stored.
These books, all of them, were priceless. They were carefully guarded from being destroyed in any way. They were cherished because they contained God’s instructions to them through Moses, and more: the record of creation, their history, the promises of a coming deliverer called Messiah, and so much more.
“By the 2nd century B.C. Jewish groups began calling the books of the Bible the “scriptures” and they referred to them as “holy.” Today the Jews call them the Tanakh, and Christians call them The Old Testament.”https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bible&oldid=899906916
Greek Old Testament
By the 3rd century B. C., Greek had become the common language for conducting business. Hebrew was still spoken by the Jews, but they were losing their ability to continue reading it. As a result, the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek around mid-3rd century B.C. The translation process was completed some time in the 2nd century. B.C. These are the scriptures most commonly read from in the times of Jesus Christ and Paul.
Greek New Testament
The New Testament Scriptures were only ever written in the Greek language. They were also written on manuscripts by scribes. Their manuscripts, however, were made from the tall aquatic reed plant named Papyrus. It is a very common plant in the Mediterranean world. Their reeds contain an adhesive element that causes them to stick together when pressure is applied. They would be cut into very thin strips and placed close together in parallel lines. Another set of such strips would be placed on top of the first set in the same way, but at a 90 degree angle to the first layer. Pressure would be applied to make them into one papyrus or manuscript. Once dried, they were cut into the desired manuscript length and rolled into a scroll by hand. Without the aid of dowels like the Hebrew scrolls, the papyrus scrolls were difficult to handle.
In time, the Codex system for keeping books together was developed. This system created rectangular manuscripts with two columns of writing that could be folded in half lengthwise. Several manuscripts were then stacked into each other and sewn on the outside of the fold, making the semblance of a modern book. These were much easier to handle, and were the forerunner of the modern day book.
These books were meticulously, painstakingly, lovingly written and copied by scribes over l.o.n.g periods of time. No mistakes were allowed. If a mistake was made, the manuscript had to be destroyed and a new one started from the very beginning. This kind of effort to keep the Scriptures pure and without error was made on a daily basis until the Gutenberg printing press was invented in 1440 A.D., and made ready for commercial use in 1450 A.D. The first printed Bible was printed on this press. (Note: Hebrew scrolls for use in today’s Jewish synagogues are still written in the same “no mistakes” ways as of old.)
In Our Day
We can’t even imagine the idea of “no mistakes.” Books containing mistakes are sold every day, and we simply overlook them. The truth is that many times we don’t even use our own brains to remember how to spell and punctuate. We have computers with spell check and grammar systems to do that for us. Perhaps that is another way in which this book might seem ordinary to us.
We haven’t had to pay the price they paid, or reach for the highest demand and touch it. Since we do not make those kinds of demands on ourselves, we may lack the ability to properly appreciate the value of their physical work to preserve the integrity of God’s Word, The Bible. They did this for themselves, and they did it for all future generations. That means us!
With just this thumbnail sketch of what it took for us to have The Holy Bible in our possession today, surely we can say, “No Ordinary Book!” We say The Holy Bible is a priceless treasure. Can you say the same thing with us? We believe you can.
Until the next time…ponder these things.
Post Script. We have played on several words in an interchangeable way in this blog: Holy Bible, Scriptures, book/s, stored, etc.. Click the link below to our first blog to find out how they are interchangeable.
Can you solve this simple puzzle? The Storehouse was stored in a house.