Evolution of The Bible

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Since Moses received the great tablets of the Ten Commandments, the Bible has been in a state of flux, a state of perpetual revision and embellishment. From the inclusion of the 39 Old Testament books and 14 Apocrypha books in the Greek Septuagint in 200 BC, to the 80-book Vulgate in 382 AD, to the The Council of Trent revisions in 1546, to the Hampton Court debacle in 1604, God’s revelation of Himself to His people has been ongoing.

Should we really believe the Dead Sea Scrolls will be the last great discovery? Somewhere out there in a dark tomb or abandoned cave, a new spiritual awakening cries out to us.

Our knowledge of the original text of the Bible comes from ancient hand-written manuscripts. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. No one has the original articles, but thousands of ancient copies have been discovered. Since these copies are hand-written, there are variations in spelling, word order, and sentence structure among them. Even though those variations do cause some confusion about the biblical text, most of the manuscript readings are in agreement. Out of about 500 pages in the Greek New Testament, the manuscript variations represent only about half of a page.

The majority of ancient manuscripts contain only small portions of the biblical text, like a book or a portion of a book. Among these manuscripts there are papyrus fragments, which are the remains of the most ancient scrolls, and typically represent only a few pages of text. These papyrus fragments have all been discovered during modern archaeological digs. Another group of manuscripts is the Uncials, which use all capital letters and are written on parchment or vellum, which is a smoother writing surface than papyrus, and allows for curved letters. The Uncial manuscripts were written between the 3rd and 8th centuries and were often bound as pages in a book, or codex, rather than a scroll. A few of these ancient codices have survived intact, giving us a solid view of the Bible used by the ancient church.

Two of the oldest complete (or nearly complete) manuscripts are the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. They are both written on parchment, and have a large number of corrections written over the original text.

Neither Jesus Christ nor the Apostles gave  us a list of books which were inspired. However, the Septuagint was extremely influential among Jews living outside Palestine (and some inside Palestine), and was the sacred writings adopted by the early Greek-speaking Christians. The Septuagint is the most ancient translation of the Old Testament and consequently is invaluable to critics for understanding and correcting the Hebrew text (Massorah), the latter, such as it has come down to us, being the text established by the Massoretes in the sixth century A.D.

Much more covered in the book.

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