Introducing The Bible

Black letter in a Latin Bible of AD 1407, on d...

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Alexander Cruden's Complete Concordance to the...

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a detail of a page from William Morgan's 1588 ...

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Miniature ofrom Folio 8r of the Syriac Bible o...
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The term “Bible” was not used to designate the Holy scriptures until the time of the early Church Fathers about A.D 400. These Latin scholars borrowed the word from the plural Greek word, biblia, meaning “rolls” or “scrolls.” In the singular, the word biblion, or biblos, referred to the papyrus plant from which the principal writing material used by the Greeks was made. When some 20 or more papyrus sheets were glued together, producing a scroll about 25 to 35 feet in length, this too was called a biblion, often translated as “book” (see Rev. 22:18,19). In Luke 4:17,20 the roll (biblion) of Isaiah is mentioned, and John’s Gospel is referred to as a biblion in John20:30. In II Timothy 4:13 the word biblia appears and probably  refers to a group of papyrus rolls. Thus the term “bible” comes technically to mean “Book of Books,” or an especially important (or authoritative) collection of books.

During the 1,200 or more years when its materials were being written, the bible did not circulate as a single book. It was not until the 4th century A.D. that all of its units were copied together in a single “codex” or volume. Although no term that appears in the Bible itself refers to that volume as it is known today, several terms are used in the scriptures to designate various portions of the modern Bible. “The Law” (Josh. 8:34; Neh. 3:2; Luke 10:26); “the book of the law” (Josh. 8:34); “the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:23); “the law of Moses” (Josh. 8:31-32; Neh. 8:1; Luke.24:44); “the scriptures” (Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:24; John 5:39); “the holy scriptures” (Rom. 1:2); “the book of the covenant” (Ex. 24:7) are among the terms used for various portions of the Bible.

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