I.          Resources

A.                How We Got the Bible, Second Ed. (Primary Resource)

By: Neil R. Lightfoot

Published: Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mi. 49516

© 1963, 1988

B.        The Origin of the Bible

Editor: Philip Wesley Comfort

Published: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Ill.

© 1992


II.                The making of ancient books.

A.                History of the Bible conditioned on:

1.         The history of writing.

2.         The history of the materials used in the making of ancient books.

B.                 Early writings and the materials used.

1.                  Bible is old, but not the oldest book.

2.                  Long before Hebrew nation in Palestine, writing was well-established art.

a.                   e.g. early Sumerian limestone tablet is extant, ca. 3500 B.C.

b.                  e.g. Egyptian hieroglyphs were in development stage at least by 3000 B.C.

3.                  Bible itself refers to some of the materials used.

a.                   Stone (generally the earliest material used). cf Job 19:23,24.

b.                  Clay (predominant materials in Assyria and Babylonia)

c.                   Wood (provided common surface in Greece for many centuries)

d.                  Leather (e.g. knife used for erasures in Jer 36:23).

(1)               Other sources says O.T. written on leather.

(2)               Jewish Talmud (code of traditional laws) required explicitly the Scriptures be copied on skins

e.                   Papyrus

(1)               Plays same role re: New Testament as skins did for Old Testament.

(2)               The most important material which could be found in ancient world.

(3)               Almost certainly used for original New Testament letters.

(4)               Plant formerly grew abundantly along the Nile.

(5)               The universal medium for books in Greece and Rome.

(6)               Average roll was approximately thirty feet long and nine to ten inches high.

(7)               c.a. 1st or 2nd century A.D., roll began to give way to papyrus codex (we know as a book).

(8)               Early Christians preferred codex – form when copying and circulating New Testament.

f.                   Vellum or Parchment

(1)               An improved process in treatment of skins.

(2)               Now used re: all kinds of animal skins especially dressed for writing purposes.

(3)               Is not tanned.

(4)               Used for 1,000 years in making copies of New Testament.

(5)               Papyrus was fragile and became scarce.

g.                  Paper

(1)               China: as early as 2d. century B.C.

(2)               In 8th century, Arabs captured Chinese prisoners.

(3)               By 13th century, was much used in Europe.

h.                  Others (e.g. wax, gold, silver, copper, lead, bone, linen, pieces of pottery).


III.             The birth of the Bible

A.                Its early form

1.                  At first, and for long time, God’s communication to man was oral.

2.                  Then, it was His will to use a written record to reveal Himself.

3.                  Moses:

a.                   1st person mentioned in Bible as writing.

b.                  Lived perhaps as early as 1500 B.C. (most date between 1350 and 1225 B.C.)

4.                  Others, e.g.

a.                   Joshua (Jos 24:26).

b.                  Samuel (1Sa 10:25)

c.                   Jeremiah (Jer 36:2)

5.                  So, books of law of Moses, first, then came the prophets.

6.                  Old Testament grew gradually, finally came to be assembled in accepted collection about the time of Ezra (ca. 400 B.C.)

7.                  New Testament also came gradually, though written in short time (AD 50-100)

B.                 The form of our Bible today.

1.                  Old Testament (today)

a.                   5 books of Law (Gen. To Dt.).

b.                  12 books of History (Jos. To Est.).

c.                   5 books of Poetry (Job to S. Sol.).

d.                  17 books of Prophecy (Is. to Mal.).

2.                  Old Testament (Hebrew Bible).

a.                   Law (Ge., Ex., Lv., Nu., Dt.).

b.                  Prophets:

(1)               Former Prophets (Jos., Jud., 1 and 2 Sa., 1 and 2 Ki.).

(2)               Latter Prophets (Is., Jer., Eze., the Book of Twelve)

c.                   Writings (Ps., Pr., Job, S. Sol., Ruth, Lam., Ecc., Est., Dan., Ezr., Neh., 1 and 2 Chr.).

3.                  Books of New Testament.

a.                   5 books of History (Mt. To Ac.).

b.                  21 books of Doctrine (Ro. to Jude).

c.                   1 book of Prophecy (Rev.).

C.                 The language of the Bible.

1.                  Hebrew.

a.                   Almost all of Old Testament.

b.                  Of a family of languages known as Semitic.

c.                   Akin to e.g. Aramaic, Syriac, Akkadian (Assyrian – Babylonian) and Arabic

d.                  Written “backwards”.

e.                   Alphabet is without vowels.

f.                   System of vowel points added.

2.                  Aramaic.

a.                   Kindred language to Hebrew.

b.                  Became tongue of commoners after the exile (ca 500 B.C.)

c.                   No difference in appearance with Hebrew, but is distinct language.

d.                  Examples:

(1)               Abba and Maranatha (“Our Lord, come!”)

(2)               Two words in Ge 31:47 plan name.

(3)               Jer 10:11.

(4)               Da 2:4b-7:28

(5)               Ezra 4:8-6:18.

(6)               Ezra 7:12-26.

3.                  Greek.

a.                   New Testament in Greek.

b.                  Koine (common) Greek.




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