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The Early Bible

How it read and was copied

                          THINGS ABOUT THE BIBLE


                 Collected from various books and scholars


1. The word "bible" comes from the Greek word "biblia" which
simply means "book" which comes from the Greek "byblos" meaning
papyrus, a material from which books were made in ancient times.

2. The ancient Greeks obtained their supplies of paper from the
port of Bylos, now in Lebanon. Their word for book - biblion (the
singular form of biblia) - was derived from the name of this
port, and from this we get out English word Bible.

3. The Bible is the world's best selling book, and also the most
shoplifted book.

4. How large is the Bible? Stack ten average-sized nonfiction
books printed today. That pile will contain the same number of
words  that are in the Bible - about one million.

5. Some Bible books are as short as half a page.

6. About a thousand years elapsed between the writing of the
first book and the last book of the bible. Hence there are many
different writing styles in the Bible.

7. The translation of the Hebrews Scriptures into the everyday
"koine" Greek dialect is known as the Septuagint. It is said to
have been sponsored by Ptolemy II Philadelphus around the 3rd
century B.C. It was done by 72 Jewish scholars, and took 72 days
to complete.

8. The Septuagint, by the time of the New Testament era, was the
most commonly used edition of the Old testament.

9. Most Jews of Jesus' day spoke Aramaic, a language similar to
Hebrew. Jesus would have spoke this language as well as studying
the formal Hebrew of the Old Testament. There is a good chance He
could also speak Greek, as that language was the common language
of the Roman Empire. Jesus left no personal writings.

10. There are 39 books in the Jewish Bible of the Old Testament,
and so also in the Christian Bible. But the books are arranged
differently in the Jewish Bible. 

11. If Bible printers laid out all the different variety of
prose, poetry, songs, language, figures of speech, used in the
Bible, you would need a wheelbarrow to move a Bible from the den
to the living room.

12. No Bible writers that we know of ever drew a map to accompany
their writing, at least none are preserved for us.

13. Some books of the Bible did face challenges. During the first
centuries A.D. some in the West did not like Hebrews, and some in
the east opposed Revelation. Much later, Martin Luther called the
book of James "an epistle of straw."

14. The Bible was not translated into English until the 7th
century.

15. We get our word "paper" from the papyrus plant - a tall weed
that could be cut into strips, then woven together and dried to
form sheets of paper as we would call it today.

16. The Codex Vaticanus was found in the Vatican Library in the
1800s - even the Roman Catholic Church did not think much of it,
as it was collecting dust on a back shelf.

17. The Codex Sinaiticus was found by Count Constantine von
Tischendorf at the Monastery of saint Catherine on Mount Sinai in
1856. He found it in a basket which contents were thrown out to
be burned, and counted as worthless. Even the Roman Catholic
Monastery thought it to be trash.

18. Most of the modern New Testament translations are based upon
the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus MSS. Hence faulty translations. The
Holy Word of God DID exist before the 1800s. 

19. The Greek world of the first centuries retained the thousands
of Greek MSS that agree and make up the New Testament. This is
know as the "Received Test." The KJV was based upon the Received
Test. The Majority Text (which J.P.Green based his Greek/English
Interlinear on) is based on taking the readings of the majority
of Greek MSS, and is just about the very same as the Received
Text.

20. More than three thousand versions of the entire Bible, or
portions of it, exist in English.

21. Chapter and verse divisions in the Bible were not in the
original writings, but came much later.

22. Chapters of the New Testament is given to a man called
Stephen Langton, while numbered verses is given credit to a man
called Robert Estienne, a French publisher.

23. Myb ftr whl y cld fll n sm f th ..... such was the original
writings of the Bible. Some MSS put it all together with no
spaces between letters. So the original Bible was more for the
EAR than for the eye. It needed to be orally passed down from
generation to generation. There were no vowels in the original
Hebrew.

24. The Masorete Jewish scholars of about 500 A.D. were the ones
to insert vowel points in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is known
today as the "Masoretic" text.

25. The original Hebrew alphabet had 22 letters all of which were
constanants.

26. The Greek, who borrowed the basic 22 letter alphabet used in
Hebrew and Phoenician, added 5 new letters at the end of their
alphabet. These 5 additional letters are the reason why the
Greeks are credited for inventing the vowel system.

27. The Hebrew and Greek of today is not the Hebrew and Greek of
the Old and New Testament. Just as the English of today would be
strange to an Englishman a thousand years ago, so it is also with
Hebrew and Greek.

28. The Bible was written in several different languages. Most of
the Old testament was in Hebrew, but parts of Daniel  are in
Aramaic. The New Testament was written in the common "koine"
Greek of the first century A.D. though it contains some Latin,
Aramaic and Hebrew phrases. 

29. Three to four centuries elapsed between the close of the Old
Testament writings and the start of the New Testament. 

30. Transcribing the Old Testament scrolls, depended on scribes,
who carefully and patiently copied the Scriptures by hand. 

31.  Before beginning his work each day, a scribe would test his
reed by dipping it in ink and writing the word "Amalek" and then
crossing it out (cf.Deut. 25:19). Then the scribe said, "I am
writing the Torah in the name of its sanctity and the name of God
in its sanctity."

32. The scribe would read a sentence in the manuscript he was
copying, repeat it aloud, and then write it. Each time he came to
the name God, he would say, "I am writing in the name of God for
the holiness of His name." If he made an error in writing God's
name. the scribe had to destroy the entire sheet of papyri\us or
vellum that he was using.

33. After the scribe finished copying a particular book, he would
count all the words and letters it contained. Then he checked
this tally against the count for the manuscript that he was
copying. He counted the number of times a particular word
occurred in the book, and he noted the middle word and the middle
letter in the book, comparing all of these with the original. By
making these careful checks, he hoped to avoid any scribal
errors.

TO BE CONTINUED

                            ..................

May 2007

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