Pastor’s Ponderings

Part Two: A Brief Bible History

Please recognize that in the short space of our newsletter we cannot do an extensive history of the Bible. In my course of study to become a United Methodist pastor, one of the classes that I took dealt with our Christian Bible. The Bible is reported to be the biggest best-seller of all time, and its history is fascinating to study. As God’s Spirit breathed on the authors of the Bible, they recorded the messages with whatever resources were available at the time. Oral history, engravings in clay, inscriptions on tablets of stone, ink and papyrus, parchment, leather and metals.

From creation to B.C. 2000 the earliest Scriptures were handed down from generation to generation orally. From B.C. 2000 to 1500 the oldest Books of the Bible were starting to be written. The earliest manuscripts comprising the original Hebrew Bible were completed in about B.C. 400. From about A.D. 45 to A.D. 100 the original 27 books of the New Testament were written and assembly started. From that time the Bible continued to evolve and in A.D. 397 the Third Synod of Carthage approved both the Old and New Testament in an accepted form breathed by the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew, with some of the books written in Aramaic. In A.D. 400 the original languages of the Old Testament and New Testament were translated into Latin. While Latin remain the traditional translation of Scripture in about A.D. 500 other language translations were starting to appear while the (universal) Catholic Church still declares Latin as the only language for Scripture. In A.D. 1382 the first English Bible was written in defiance of the organized church. Those who did the translation believed that people should be able to read the Bible in their own language. Up until this time all the reproductions of the Bible were done by scribes in Latin and in hand written form.

In A.D. 1455 after the invention of the printing press in Germany more and more translations became available. It was in A.D. 1536 that Martin Luther completed his work by translation the Bible into German. This translation is known as the Protestant Bible today. From that time on a number of different Bibles translation had been written working from the original text of Aramaic and Greek to what we know commonly today as the King James Version which was completed in A.D. 1611. This translation was called the, “Authorized Version”. And since that time a number of other translations have become available for our reading and understanding. Until the Gutenberg press first printed the Latin Bible in A.D. 1456, all Bibles were hand copied onto papyrus, parchment and paper.

When the Bible is translated into different languages it is usually translated from the original Hebrew and Greek writings. Over time, the accuracy of many of the manuscripts from our Old Testament and New Testament have been substantiated by archeological findings and recent findings such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Geniza Fragments and the Ben Asher Manuscripts have continued to help us authenticate Scripture text. We as Christians believe God chose certain individuals to author sacred Scripture. Because God has chosen these individuals and they were affirmed by the Holy Spirit; we are to acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach the truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, does inspire us.

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