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Featured Who owned the scrolls in Jesus day?

Discussion in 'Christian History' started by mindlight, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. JackRT

    JackRT Flat earther waking up ... Supporter

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    Hezser, Catherine "Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine", 2001, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism; 81. Tuebingen: Mohr-Siebeck, at page 503.

    I have seen literacy rate estimates as low as 3%.
     
  2. PaulCyp1

    PaulCyp1 Active Member Supporter

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    The Bible itself did not exist in those times. In fact the bishops of the Catholic Church didn't compile the Bible until three and a half centuries after Jesus ascended into Heaven. But the Jewish scribes did have copies of many ancient writings, some of which would be included in the Bible many centuries later.
     
  3. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Paul asked Timothy to bring the books and the parchments to him. I believe Paul had them.
     
  4. Josephus

    Josephus <b>Co-Founder Christian Forums</b> Supporter

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    A copy of the Torah was always to be found in one's synagogue. This is true today as it was then. Teaching Torah and learning Hebrew was of primary importance in the lives of children 2000 years ago, as it is today in Jewish communities. The literacy rate for Jews 2000 years ago was always higher than other populations as a result. Often though, school consisted of sitting down and listening to a teacher for hours on end, and reciting back to the teacher what was learned and memorized. The common person was not expected to own a Torah scroll, but communities shared scrolls at synagogues which were often the first library any community had.

    When churches split from syngagoues, there was most likely a similar system, whereby the congregation would have access to scrolls donated by the community or purchased by the community for public use and study at the place of the congregation. Older and more established congregations would be expected to have more scrolls, newer congregations would probably not have any at all, and completely rely on the words of the teachers in their midst who may or may not had access to their own personal copies of scriptures.

    Later on, groups of scholars created a system in response to a growing problem of keeping such scriptures preserved and copied for future generations to use, as newer congregations sprouted that had no scriptures and no one qualified to copy them. Dedicated scribes would later form communities of scribes that resulted in the monastic movement of later centuries. But synagogues still maintained their Torah scrolls even throughout this period, hence why monasteries typically only focused on only preserving Greek Christian scriptures.

    This is probably also why Greek Christian scriptures were mostly used (and later Latin) in churches, leading to a dearth of Hebrew scriptures available to the common Christian as early is the 3rd Century as they were downplayed in their necessity by the self-reinforcing heresy of Marcion inventing the idea that the Tanakh represented an "old" testament, vs a "new" testament of Greek Christian scriptures.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
  5. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    The Septuagint was compiled 2nd century BC and available at the time. It is extensively quoted in the NT which was written within a generation of Jesus Ascension. But in the gap years between Jesus leaving and the first written records of his life my question was how apart from the oral tradition did early Christians have access to the scriptures.
     
  6. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    Early Christians would have copied and circulated the earliest Christian writings. Essentially communities sharing and copying texts.

    I wouldn't be terribly surprised if synagogues, especially smaller ones, did something similar. It's possible that each synagogue had its own Torah scroll, but as for other texts, I wouldn't find it surprising that scrolls were shared between communities. Having a complete set, as it were, would have probably been a very costly possession--and I'm sure that was the case at least sometimes.

    I have no idea of course, but given the time-consuming and costly nature of writing at the time, sharing books would have probably been more economically feasible.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  7. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Her book was not focused on producing a %. It discussed the problems of defining literacy in different cultures and the conditions in which literacy could exist. In Syriac - palestinian culture it was observed that there was an emphasis on religious learning more than political. The Jews had an education infrastructure which could encourage literacy focused on synagogues. There was an emphasis on schooling youngsters but often they leant orally and by repetition. The best would learn to read and write. Hence the status of the scribes and Pharisees in Jewish culture.

    But the early church included gentiles from different literary cultures and clearly after a while the Jewish model broke down in favour of a greek literary model. Hebrew was surplanted by Greek. The apostles and Paul universally went for Greek over Hebrew also
     
  8. Ignatius the Kiwi

    Ignatius the Kiwi Newbie

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    During the time of the New Testament, codices, instead of scrolls were becoming more prominent. I'm not sure scrolls had a formal place within the Church or were insisted upon like they were and are within Judaism, at least with regards to the Torah. It's just so much more convenient to carry a book, open it anywhere and find what you need to read, unlike a scroll which involves unwinding the whole thing.

    When I think about the process of making such a work, If you wanted a copy of the complete scripture for yourself, you had to be rich enough to afford a copyist to make one for you. That includes the ink, the paper and the binding of the book. You then also have to secure an existent manuscript for your brand new one. If you couldn't afford one yourself, which i suspect many Church leaders couldn't, they would have richer members of their community be benefactors in the creation of such a text. Not even taking into account that you might want multiple copyists for a work as long as the bible to cover certain sections instead of one man doing the entire thing by himself. I have no long how that would take. Each of these factors causes the cost to rise substantially. There might have been mitigating factors that lessened the cost. The conversion of scribes to Christianity and the subsequent devotion would probably result in the willful copying of at least the New Testament or certain books of the bible out of their own pocket for the sake of the Church. Given that the bible became one of the most copied books as the centuries went on there was also likely competition which would have kept cost down amongst scribes hired to make a bible.

    As for access to these texts, you had to be able to read for starters so already a majority of the population could not access the bible. The bible would also have to be owned or you would need permission of whoever held it. So access was restricted, not out of malice i believe but out of necessity.
     
  9. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Guess that depends on how you travel. The Ethiopian eunuch (a treasurer for the Ethiopian Queen) was reading the scroll of Isaiah while he travelled. Phillip the Evangelist was clearly literate enough in whichever language this scroll was written to explain its contents to him.

    Yes it was clearly an immense labour to produce just one set of OT scriptures, but I am sure that a great many early Christians did that as a labour of love rather than as one for profit. I would not be surprised if many Jews who did not convert also profited from this extra demand. But the literate man had an immense advantage and continued authority in such a community as it was he who could test the word that was shared and also mine its deeper riches for the church
     
  10. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Some excellent points. I wonder how much a dearth of OT scriptures in the NT church contributed to the development and attraction of the Marcionite heresy.

    The prevalence of Greek over Hebrew means that these were the texts that were copied and regarding the OT it was the Septuagint rather than proto Masoretic texts that were used in most of the early church outside Israel. I guess the destruction of Jerusalem and the prevalence of the gentile church over the Jewish church also cemented Greek, with its left to right reading and its vowels and its literary style over Hebrew or Aramaic with its right to left reading , lack of vowels and emphasis on audio-oral learning also

    Also interesting points about the development of the monastic movement. A major practical reason for that would be to build safe places to store and copy manuscripts in the dark ages and to preserve the learning in them.

    The shift from a Jewish model of learning to a Greek orientated one may have impacted the ways in which people read and understood the OT. I am sure passages that emphasised Jewish national aspirations or divine right would have had less significance than the fact that a covenant for all mankind existed with Adam, and NOah for instance. Also to some extent as much opposition came from the Jews and the Romans had more problems with Jewish zealots than with the new church, that was mainly peaceful in outlook, the roots of anti-Semitism were born in this era.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
  11. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    I guess a major town like Caeserea may have had several sets of OT scriptures but as you say sharing might have been the norm between the various early churches where that was not the case. The scribe who could interpret the OT scriptures to the new church in the light of Jesus would have been of great value and status. Paul had such a status and this was probably why he was so hated by the Jewish community. He could not be dismissed as a dumb illiterate Christian who just did not understand the texts. He had the best of all teachers under Gamaliel
     
  12. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Do you have any evidence that the shift to codices took place this early?
     
  13. Ignatius the Kiwi

    Ignatius the Kiwi Newbie

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    Well I'm not aware of any Church books, be that the bible, theological writings, liturgies and anything related, being in scroll form. They are all, to my knowledge, in codices.

    If you need the evidence, look at the earliest copies of the new Testament that we have. Virtually all of them are codices.
     
  14. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    But these codices date later than the original early church period. Codex Sinaticus is dated in the fourth century for instance. I doubt if St Paul wrote his letters in a codice more likely on a parchment as a scroll. A codex represents a bringing together of materials that were probably compiled separately. Unless that is someone knows of a Septuagint Codex from the first century.
     
  15. Tessy40

    Tessy40 New Member

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    QUOTE="mindlight, post: 73785459, member: 21246"]We are used to having access to scripture. I have bibles all over the house and can simply look up stuff online also from laptops or mobiles. That freedom of access comes from technology that was not available in the time of Jesus and the early church e.g. printing press, digital media and the internet.

    There is reference to Jesus reading scripture in a synagogue so maybe it is a good bet that most rabbis had a copy of the bible but you would have to go to a synagogue to hear it.

    1) Who else owned copies of the Septuagint or ancient Hebrew or Aramaic translations of scripture. How could you get a copy of the scriptures.

    2) If you were rich enough could you buy one and from whom. Would any copy you had have to be hand copied.

    It seems the early church mainly used the Septuagint when quoting from the OT and it seems most of the NT if not all was written in Greek also.

    3) But how much access did the churches have to the written word in the earliest days of Christianity[/QUOTE]
     
  16. Ignatius the Kiwi

    Ignatius the Kiwi Newbie

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    I am using the term codex only as a means to distinguish from scrolls. Codices are in the format of our modern books, that is multiple pages instead of one single rolled up. Of course saint Paul didn't write his letters as published books, but as manuscripts, likely on paper pages instead of a scroll.

    I personally don't think Saint Paul wrote on scrolls based on the Church's use of books since as far as we can see Christian manuscripts.
     
  17. JackRT

    JackRT Flat earther waking up ... Supporter

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    From Wikipedia:

    "The Romans developed the form from wooden writing tablets. The gradual replacement of the scroll by the codex has been called the most important advance in book making before the invention of printing.[2] The codex transformed the shape of the book itself, and offered a form that lasted until present day (and continues to be used alongside e-paper).[3] The spread of the codex is often associated with the rise of Christianity, which adopted the format for use with the Bible early on.[4] First described by the 1st-century AD Roman poet Martial, who praised its convenient use, the codex achieved numerical parity with the scroll around AD 300,[5] and had completely replaced it throughout what was by then a Christianized Greco-Roman world by the 6th century.[6]"

    This would indicate to me that all the original Christian manuscripts were almost certainly in scroll format.
     
  18. Foxfyre

    Foxfyre Well-Known Member Supporter

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    So far as I know, there are no 'original' manuscripts left of any part of the Bible, either Old Testament or New Testament. But almost certainly some manuscripts were intended to be hand copied by the scribes and circulated among the synagogues and later, the Christian congregations. And I suppose those institutions owned the manuscripts. I doubt many, if any, individuals had access to them in any other way because of the time it took to painstakingly hand copy the text onto papyrus or parchment that was also not produced in bulk.

    I have always wondered how literate the people of Jesus' time were. There is no information of his early upbringing so we do not know how he came to be able to read the ancient scriptures, but Luke reports that read them he did in the synagogue. We can conclude from this that he had had some schooling whether he was home schooled or tutored or taught in some other way.

    I have no evidence, but I like to think that God allowed the original manuscripts to be lost because probably He knew that if we had them, we would make idols/gods of them and worship them. IMO, we sometimes come close enough to that error even with our modern day Bibles however important they are to instruct and teach us and help us to understand. I do think God protected the Bible though despite all the many efforts to stamp it out, and it is rather remarkable that it has been the #1 best seller in the world since the printing press was invented.
     
  19. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Yes clearly a codex is superior to scrolls but it was not the pattern of the early church but rather something which the later church adopted to preserve and present crucial manuscripts
     
  20. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    The codex is a superior way to store and carry information and would also have been easier to hide being more compact. I notice that the Rylands fragment came from a codex and so it may also be a better way to preserve scriptures. But it was not really in general use until the 3rd or 4th century. But since it was invented far earlier and even used by Julius Caesar before the Christian era maybe it is possible that some churches had codexes rather than scrolls and especially in the gentile world. I doubt if Paul used them cause he mentions parchments and was trained by Pharisees. It would have been a big jump for him to used a codice instead and why bother for single letters.
     
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