How We Got The Bible

Published on November 4, 2019

In the modern world we live in it is easy to take a lot of things for granted. If you’re hungry and want something to eat, you don’t have to go hunt or gather your food. In fact, you don’t have to really cook at all. You don’t have to wait for the microwave or even go out to a restaurant; you can order your food and have it delivered to your door with just a few taps on your smartphone.

            Excited about the new musical release from your favorite artist? Waiting in line for the store to open up is a thing of the past. Now you can just preorder the album, and it will automatically download on your phone the moment it becomes available, the same with books and movies. There’s no point in going to the local bookstore or Blockbuster[1] to get the newest bestseller or theatrical release if you can get it while sitting on the couch.

            With this type of accessibility, people often overlook the lengthy process it takes to produce such items. Your Bible, for example- do you ever wonder how you got it? And no, I don’t mean from the local religious book store or Amazon. But where did your Bible come from? And don’t say, “from God!” – it did, but that’s not the point.

            The Bible you hold in your hands was not always written down on paper or in a digital format. In fact, even after it was on paper, not many people had access to it. They either couldn’t afford it or it was illegal to own (even in Christian countries). People actually gave their lives in order for others to have access to copies of the Bible. That’s pretty serious considering how much we take it for granted today.

            People are often surprised when they learn that the Bible was first transmitted orally. When some people think about where the Bible came from, they picture Moses coming down from the mountain with a tablet of stone, not exactly factual since it was only the 10 Commandments that were written on the stone. The amount of stone tablets it would have taken for the entire Bible would have been much too heavy for Moses to carry himself. So it shouldn’t be such a shocker that Moses was able to store much more information in his mind than he could on stone.

            Within Judaism, the concept of an oral law is less taboo than within fundamental Christianity. In fact, the Bible often mentions the giving of tôrôt, the plural of torah.[2] It becomes clear that the law was given orally and only found its way to parchment much later. Also, it should be remembered that each book of the Bible was written individually, over a long period of time. Yet, the Hebrew Bible was considered authoritative and books were compiled together long before any of the New Testament texts were written. In fact, evidence for that is in the references to the Hebrew Bible made by the New Testament, using it as an authoritative document. This isn’t the only outside evidence though; we can also consider the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, which was originally compiled for the library in Alexandria.[3]

            The Bible went through a long period of transformation: written on various materials including metal, stone, clay, papyrus, and parchment; written in different countries, by different authors, in different periods of time. Originally, it was painstakingly copied by hand, word for word and letter for letter. That is until 1455 when Johannes Gutenberg developed his printing press and began printing the Bible. The process was much quicker and therefore allowed the cost of the Bibles to be much cheaper.

            Still, people had difficulty obtaining a Bible. Often the official church refused to allow the “common” person to read the Bible for themselves for fear that they might “misinterpret” the scriptures. This conflict led to many brave people being arrested, tried, and martyred all because they tried to distribute the Bible to the vast population.

            As interesting as it may be, this is only part of the story. There were various councils to decide which books belong in the Bible. Some were accepted for a while, others rejected, and others eventually added additional texts. The story of the Bible is most fascinating and far too long for just this article. But if you are interested in learning more about how we got the Bible, I invite you to sign up for Tour The Bible Academy and enroll in BS01 History of the Bible and then you can see just how exciting the history of the Bible really is!

[1] My research staff has informed me that people no longer go to stores to rent movies, instead there are vending type machines where people can rent DVDs. Most often spotted outside of Walgreens.

[2] See Genesis 26:5

[3] The original Septuagint was vastly different than the modern copies you find today known as the LXX. Today, Septuagint is synonymous with any Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Don’t stop learning about the Bible!


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