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Title: History%20of%20the%20Bible

History of the Bible
  • The grass withers, the flower fades, but the
    word of our God stands forever. (Is 408)

  • The Holy Bible has been transmitted to us
    accurately from the time it was originally
    written so that we have an exact representation
    of what God said and did and who He is.
  • The Holy Bible is unique in its continuity.
    Its a book that was written over a 1600-year
  • written over 40 generations and written by more
    than 40 authors, from every walk of life (kings,
    peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets,
    statesmen, physiciansetc).
  • its a book whose subject matter includes
    hundreds of topics. Yet the Holy Bible spoke with
    extraordinary harmony and continuity about one
    unfolding story Gods redemption of the human

The Old Testament
  • written sometime between 1500-400 BC. Until
    recently (with the discovery of the Dead Sea
    Scrolls), the oldest complete Old Testament
    manuscript was dated about 900 AD.
  • This made a time gap of 1300 years between when
    the Old Testament was completed (around 400 BC)
    and the earliest manuscript (around 900 AD). The
    Septuagint (the Greek translation) is actually
    based on an older Hebrew manuscript, where the
    prophecies about Christ are more precise.

The Old Testament
  • The Massoretes (AD 500-900, from massora,
    Tradition) took upon themselves the tedious and
    time consuming job of editing and standardizing
    the Hebrew text and adding vowel points that
    would insure proper pronunciation.

The Old Testament
  • The text that the Massoretes produced is called
    the Massoretic text. This is the standard
    Hebrew text that is used today. The Hebrew
    scribes had elaborate systems for transcribing
    that gave them enough confidence in the new
    copies that the original copy actually became
    less valuable with age! This is why theres a
    1300 year gap between when the Old Testament was
    completed and the earliest manuscripts found.

The Old Testament
  • The same extreme care which was devoted to the
    transcription of manuscripts is also at the
    bottom of the disappearance of the earlier
    copies. When a manuscript had been copied with
    the exactitude prescribed by the Talmud, and had
    been duly verified, it was accepted as authentic
    and regarded as being of equal value with any
    other copy.

The Old Testament
  • If all are equally correct, age gave no advantage
    to a manuscript on the contrary, age was a
    positive disadvantage, since a manuscript was
    liable to become defaced or damaged in the lapse
    of time. A damaged or imperfect copy was at once
    condemned as unfit for use. Thus, far from
    regarding an older copy of the Scriptures as more
    valuable, the Jewish habit has been to prefer the
    newer, as being the most perfect and free from
    damage. Frederic Kenyon

Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran
  • The discovery of these Dead Sea Scrolls at
    Qumran has been hailed as the most important
    archeological discovery of the twentieth century.
  • The scrolls have revealed that a commune of
    monastic farmers lived in the valley from about
    150 BC to 70 AD. It is believed that when they
    saw the Romans invade the land they put their
    cherished leather scrolls in the jars and hid
    them in the caves on the cliffs northwest of the
    Dead Sea.

Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran
  • This discovery provided an incredible proof for
    the authenticity and reliability of the Old
    Testament manuscripts. One of the complete books
    found in Qumran cave 1 were two copies of Isaiah.
    These books were thousands of years older than
    the oldest dated manuscripts previously known.
  • They proved to be word for word identical to the
    standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 of the
    text. The 5 variation consisted chiefly of
    obvious slips of pen and variations in spelling.
    They do not affect the message of revelation in
    the slightest.

The New Testament
  • We have more than 24000 manuscript copies of
    portions of the New Testament in existence.
  • No other document of antiquity even begins to
    approach such numbers.
  • The Iliad by Homer is second with only 643
    manuscripts that still survive.
  • Other books such as the writings of Plato, and
    Herodotus have no more than 20 surviving

The New Testament
  • The reliability of the New Testament manuscripts
    is also supported by the writings of the early
    Church fathers.
  • Suppose that the New Testament had been
    destroyed, and every copy of it lost by the end
    of the third century (thats 100 years before the
    Synod of Hippo canonized the New Testament), how
    much of it could be collected from the writings
    of the fathers of the second and third centuries?
    The answer is stunning! All of it except for 11

The New Testament
  • The earliest such texts are the letters
    (or Epistles) written between about 50 and 62 AD
    by St. Paul to various early Christian
  • Next in chronological sequence comes the Acts of
    the Apostles, a description of the missionary
    efforts of St. Peter and others in Jerusalem and
    of St. Paul and his journeys. 
  • The Gospels in written form are slightly later
    than the Epistles and Acts.

The New Testament
  • The first Christians, gathering for worship,
    repeat together their beliefs about the life,
    death and promises of Jesus Christ. These truths
    are what they have been told and taught they are
    what they teach to new converts and to their own
    children. They are the joyful tidings of a better
    world which only Christians share. That is the
    Good News.
  • Good news is what the word gospel means. 
  •   It is not until well into the 2nd century that
    the four Gospels are given their names

The New Testament Establishing the canon 2nd -
4th century AD
  • By the middle of the 2nd century it becomes
    evident that a great many different and often
    contradictory passages of holy scripture are
    circulating among the various Christian churches,
    each claiming to offer the truth. (There is even
    a Gospel according to Judas Iscariot.) Which of
    these shall be accepted as the official canon?
    This becomes a subject of urgent debate among
    church leaders. 
  • By the end of the century it is widely agreed
    that four Gospels, the Epistles of Paul and
    the Acts of the Apostles are authentic.
  • not until 367 AD that a list is circulated by St.
    Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, which finally
    establishes the content of the New Testament. 

The New Testament
  • Meanwhile the texts are being ceaselessly copied
    and recopied on papyrus and later on parchment.
  • A few fragments survive from the 2nd century, but
    the earliest complete New Testament (the Codex
    Sinaiticus, in Greek, written probably in Egypt,
    now in the British Library) dates from the late
    4th century. 
  • By this time Jerome is working in Bethlehem on
    his Latin version of the Bible. The story of the
    New Testament evolves into the story of
    its translations.

The New TestamentTranslations
  • There is no need for any part of the Bible to be
    translated until a community of Jews, in
    the Diaspora, forget their Hebrew.
  • For the Jews of Alexandria, in the 3rd century
    BC, Greek is the first language. They undertake
    the translation of the Old Testament now known as
    the Septuagint-Greek word for seventy,
    commissioned by Alexander the Great.
  • The Bible in Latin 2nd - 4th century AD
  • During the 1st century Greek remains the language
    of the small Christian community, but with the
    spread of the faith through the Roman empire a
    Latin version of the Bible texts is needed in
    western regions.
  • By the second century there is one such version
    in use in north Africa and another in
    Italy. These versions become corrupted and others
    are added, until by the 4th century - in the
    words of St Jerome, the leading biblical scholar
    of the time - there are 'almost as many texts as
  • In 382 the pope, Damasus, commissions Jerome to
    provide a definitive Latin version. In his
    monastery at Bethlehem, tended by aristocratic
    virgins, the saint produces the Vulgate. This
    eventually becomes established as the Bible of
    the whole western church until the Reformation. 
  • By the time the Vulgate is complete (in about
    405), the barbarian Goths also have their own
    version of parts of the Bible - thanks to the
    astonishing missionary effort of Ulfilas.

The New TestamentTranslations Ulfilas and his
alphabet AD c.360
  • The Visigoths, or West Goths, a warlike people,
    lived along the Roman frontier west of the Black
    Sea. After they had been Christianized, Ulfilas
    (311-382), their bishop, saw they needed the
    Bible in their own tongue, "to speak to their
  • First, Ulfilas had to make an alphabet. He knew
    that neither the Greek nor the Roman alphabet
    would fit a Germanic language. He chose from
    these alphabets only the letters that
    corresponded to the speech sounds of Visigoth.
    For sounds for which there were no letters, he
    used runes, an early Germanic alphabet of limited
    use. With this, he translated the Bible.

The New TestamentTranslations Jeromes
Intentions didnt pan out
  • The intention of St Jerome, translating into
    Latin the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the
    Greek of the New Testament, was that ordinary
    Christians of the Roman empire should be able to
    read the word of God. 'Ignorance of the
    scriptures', he wrote, 'is ignorance of Christ'. 
  • After the collapse of the western empire, the
    people of Christian Europe speak varieties of
    German, French, Anglo-Saxon, Italian or Spanish.
    The text of Jerome's Vulgate is understood only
    by the learned, most of whom are priests.
  • Unfortunately they preferred to corner the source
    of Christian truth, keeping for themselves the
    privilege of interpreting it for the people.
    Translation into vulgar tongues is

The New TestamentTranslations In the late 8th
  • Charlemagne commissions translation of parts of
    the Bible for the use of his missionaries in the
    drive to convert pagan Germans.
  • In the 9th century the Greek brothers Cyril and
    Methodius, sent from Constantinople to Moravia at
    royal request, translate the Gospels and parts of
    the Old Testament into Slavonic. 

The New TestamentTranslations 14th century.
  • John Wycliffe and his followers produce full
    English versions of the Old and New Testament in
    the late 14th century.
  • At the same period the Czechs have their own
    vernacular Bible, subsequently much improved by
    John Huss. 
  • The issue of vernacular Bibles becomes one of the
    contentious themes of the Reformation.

The New TestamentTranslations Erasmus, Luther
and Tyndale AD 1516-1536
  • Erasmus, though he himself translates the New
    Testament only from Greek into Latin, expresses
    in his preface of 1516 the wish that the holy
    text should be in every language - so that
    even Scotts and Irishman might read it. 
  • Luther's interest in translating the New
    Testament from the original Greek into German has
    been stimulated, in 1518. His New Testament is
    ready for publication in September 1522 (it
    becomes known as the September Bible).
  • Luther's complete Bible, with the Old Testament
    translated from the Hebrew, is published in 1534. 

The New TestamentTranslations Erasmus, Luther
and Tyndale AD 1516-1536
  •  Soon after the publication of Luther's New
    Testament an English scholar, William Tyndale, is
    studying in Wittenberg.
  • Tyndale begins a translation of the New Testament
    from Greek into English. His version is printed
    at Worms in 1526 in 3000 copies. When they reach
    England, the bishop of London seizes every copy
    that his agents can lay their hands on. 
  • The offending texts are burnt at St Paul's Cross,
    a gathering place in the precincts of the
    cathedral. So effective are the bishop's methods
    that today only two copies of the original 3000
  • Tyndale continues with his dangerous work. By
    1535 he has translated the first half of the Old
    Testament. In that year, living inconspicuously
    among English merchants in Antwerp, his identity
    is betrayed to the authorities. Tyndale is
    considered a heretic. He is executed at the stake
    in 1536.
  •  In spite of the destruction of printed copies,
    Tyndale's words survive in a living form. His
    texts become the source to which subsequent
    translators regularly return once it has been
    decided - by Henry VIII in 1534 - that there
    shall be an official English Bible. 

The New TestamentTranslations King James
Version and 20c.
  • The translation which becomes central to English
    culture, as Luther's is to German, is the King
    James Bible (also called the Authorized Version).
  • Edited by forty-seven scholars between 1604 and
    1611, it aims to take the best from all earlier
    translations. By far its major source is
  • Of course now, it is translated in many
  • In Papua New Guinea more than 800 languages are
    spoken. The first translation of the New
    Testament into one of these languages is not
    published until 1956. Yet by the 1990s the New
    Testament is available in more than 100 languages
    of the region, with almost 200 other versions in

Translation vs. Paraphrase
  • When it comes to authenticity and to stay safe
    from misinterpretation, it is recommended to use
    the NKJV, The New Revised Standard, NRSV, the New
    American Standard Version (NAS) and the New
    International Version (NIV).

What about those Deuterocanonical Books?
  • The word deuterocanonical comes from the Greek
    meaning 'belonging to the second canon'
  • After the Protestant and Catholic canons were
    defined by Luther (c. 1534) and Trent(1546)
    respectively, early Protestant editions of the
    Bible (notably the Luther Bible in German and
    1611 King James Version in English) did not omit
    these books, but placed them in a
    separate Apocrypha section apart from
    the Old and New Testaments to indicate their
  • The Jewish historian Josephus speaks of the books
    as being 22 in number, a Jewish tradition
    reported also by bishop Athanasius.

The Deuterocanonical Books.
  • In Orthodoxy, the term is understood to mean that
    they were compiled separately from the primary
    canon, as explained in 2 Esdras, where Esdras is
    instructed to keep certain books separate and
    hidden, deutero (second) applies to authority or
    witnessing power.
  • In Roman Catholicism, deutero applies to
    chronology (the fact that these books were
    confirmed later), not to authority. In
    the Catholic Church, the formal recognition of
    the Canon of the Bible, which included also
    the deuterocanonical books, occurred in the Synod
    of Hippo (393), and again in the Councils of
    Carthage of 397. Much later (15th century), it
    was considered in the Council of Florence,whose
    decision was later confirmed by the
    (154563) Council of Trent and then later
    rejected by the reform movement.

The Deuterocanonical Books.
  • Since the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage
    in the late 4th century AD, the Christian
    faithful were taught that the deuterocanonical
    books are Scripture, and they were used as such.
    It was not, however, till 1546 that the
    inspiration of those books was called into
  • Surprisingly Saint Jerome, whose Latin vulgate
    translation became the official translation of
    the Catholic Church, did not want to include the
    Deuterocanonical books in the translation. Jerome
    lived in Palestine and was aware of the Hebrew
    canon that had developed. His contemporary Saint
    Augustine arguing from tradition, wanted them
    included in new vulgate translation. After
    conferring with Pope Damasus and realizing most
    people sided with Augustine, Jerome included the
    Deuterocanonical books in his translation.

The Deuterocanonical Books.
  • The Protestants attempt to defend their rejection
    of the deuterocanonicals on the ground that the
    early Jews rejected them. However, the Jewish
    councils that rejected them (e.g., council of
    Jamnia in 90 - 100 A.D.) were the same councils
    that rejected the entire New Testatment canon.
    Thus, Protestants who reject the Orthodox and
    Catholic Bible are following a Jewish council who
    rejected Christ and the Revelation of the New
  • There is a sleuth of cross references of between
    the Deuterocanonical books and the NT books.

  • Frederic Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient
    Manuscripts Harper Brothers, 1941.P.43).
  • Bruce, F.F. The Books and the Parchments, Rev.
    Ed. Westwood Fleming H. Revell Co., 1963)
  • (Leah, C. Our Bible How we got it, Chicago
    Moody Press, 1998)
  • The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures by Fr.
    Shenouda Maher
  • Our Christian faith certain and truthful by
    Dr. Sameh Helmy, and The
  • book we call the Bible from CoptNet.
  • http//www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHisto
  • http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterocanonical_book
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