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The Bible, or the amazing story of a survival

 
Before becoming the most published book in the world, the Bible has survived many dangers. One of the greatest threats to its preservation was not the fire of persecution, but the slow process of decomposition of the supports on which it was written. A brief summary of these two dangers with a fast course in the museum.
                   
The story reported several attempts of genocide directed against the guardians of the Word, the Jews and the Christians. The days of Moses, Pharaoh ordered that we put to death all the newborn male Israelites. If this order had been executed, the Hebrew people would have disappeared. - Exodus 1: 15-22
           
 
 

Finding of Moses  OA 6086

 

Third part of the tapestry
of the Old Testament,
after Simon Vouet executed
Louis XIII, for the palate
Louvre 1630
Paris, Raphael Brand
the board
Tapestry, wool and silk

Richelieu 1st floor Effiat Room 3

 

Genocide against the guardians of the Word

Centuries later, when the Jews came under Persian rule, opponents led by Aman have plotted the enactment of a law still intended to exterminate them. The Jewish holiday of Purim commemorates still today the failure of the plot (Esther 3: 1-15). Later still, while the Jews were subject to Syria, King Antiochus IV made every effort to Hellenize. For him it was failure. The Jews were not exterminated nor assimilated: they survived. And with them survived the Hebrew Scriptures.
                   
   
                   
  The Triumph of Mordecai inv 8219. Jean-François de TROY, 1739.
A horse and clothed in royal robes, Mordecai, who had once saved Ahasuerus
a fatal conspiracy was led in triumph by his enemy Haman.
It is Haman himself, believing that the tribute was intended for him,
had prepared this glorious scene setting.
 
     
The persecution and genocide of these attempts have compromised the survival of the Bible. If the Jews had suffered the same fate as the Philistines and the Moabites, if the efforts of Jewish and Roman authorities had been successful, who would have written and preserved the Bible? But fortunately, the guardians of the Bible, the Jews and the Christians did not disappear; and with them the Book survived.
     
The Spanish Inquisition was born
in 1478 by a papal bull of Sixtus IV

at the request of Ferdinand sovereign
and Isabelle. It was established to address
Marranos, Jews who pretended to convert
to Catholicism to escape
persecution, the Moors, followers
converted to Islam to Catholicism
the same reason, and Spanish heretics.
Thirty years after the invention of printing,
the Inquisition raged with terrible
efficiency in Spain. It is because
Bible as martyrs delivered
the flames of execution.

Nero turned some Christians
lights in the world. But the streets
European cities were ablaze
by the burning of Bibles.
Despite strenuous efforts to
away with Bibles for the people,
many copies escaped
destruction.
 
 
 

Pope Sixtus IV MI 644
 
Just GHENT

Richelieu 2nd Netherlands Room 4
 

Survival, despite slow process of decomposition of supports

One of the greatest threats to the preservation of the text was not sudden fire of persecution, but the slow process of decomposition. Copyists and editors have recorded the inspired messages on perishable materials, such as papyrus or leather. None of the original writings have yet been discovered. But thousands of biblical books portions of copies have been found.   AA171
                   
 
 The survival of the Word
is even more extraordinary

considering what happened
to the writings of contemporary
nations of Israel.
   

One of the greatest threats
to the preservation
Text was not the sudden heat of persecution,
but the slow process
decomposition of
media literacy.

 
                   
  What happened

old documents

Phoenicians, Egyptians

or the Romans?
   

During the 300 years between
the reign of Augustus to that
Diocletian 225 million
receipts established on
papyrus have been issued.
Only two readable documents
were found.
 
 
                   
The survival of the Word is the more extraordinary considering what happened to the writings of contemporary nations of Israel. The Phoenicians, for example. Most of papyrus on which they wrote decomposed and our knowledge of them come mainly from the stories, inevitably partial, of their enemies. It seems they have produced abundant literature, but we lost all traces from ancient times. The Egyptians are renowned for having one of the papyrus writing material. It is believed that 99% of all written papyrus from about 3000 BC. JC and the advent of the Graeco-Roman period have completely decomposed. And Roman papyrus? An example. A receipt of the balance of Roman soldiers was established on papyrus. During the 300 years between the reign of Augustus to that of Diocletian 225 million receipts have been issued. How many survived? Only two readable documents were found.  AA170
                   
 
 Why so few papyrus

old were they survived?
   

The proliferation of
copies allowed
the preservation of the text

 
   
Why so few ancient papyri have they survived? Perishable materials, such as papyrus and another common writing material, leather, break down quickly in humid climates. So they have little chance to retain if they are in a dry desert and in a cave or shelter. The original Bible books were written clearly on such fragile materials as those which were used by the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Romans. But then, why he has the text of the Bible survived to become the most published book in the world? One reason is that because the original writings were copied many, many times, even during the biblical period. The multiplication of copies allowed the preservation of the text.
                   
 
 

The convent of Sainte - Catherine

inv 3689 Adrian DAUZATS
 

Sully 2nd Floor Room 71
 
This painting remembers
a trip made by the artist in 1830.
The monastery has no door:
hoisted is accessed in a basket
by a high skylight.

It is in this monastery nestled
at the foot of Jebel Musa, identified
at Mount Sinai, which was discovered
in the fourth century biblical manuscript known today as the Codex Sinaiticus.

This is one of the oldest complete copies known Greek Scriptures.  AA167

Sopherim and the Masoretes

In the sixth century av.n.è, Jewish scribes, the Sopherim, have become the custodians of the text of the Hebrew Bible. They also had the responsibility to make copies of the Scriptures for the use of public and private worship. These very conscientious men and occupation have produced a work of the highest quality. From the seventh to the tenth century CE, they had an inheritance to Masoretes (from a Hebrew word meaning "tradition"). The essential task of the scribes was to preserve the traditional Hebrew text. Meticulous men, they were required to use as a model a text whose authenticity was successfully established, and he was not allowed to write anything memory. It was furthermore check each letter before reproducing. This manual method still carried the risk that an error is found in every new copy. And how to know today after thousands of copies of the text have been made, if the Bible has not been completely disfigured?   AA172
                   
 
 
We can not say enough
that substantially
the text of the Bible is safe
 
Sir Frederic Kenyon
 
   

How to know today
after thousands
copies of the text
have been made,
If the Bible was not
completely disfigured?

 
 
     
 Parchment inscribed in Coptic
 
E 9970
 
Gospel Luke, 7, 12b-22b.
Uncial writing biblical type.

Sully room 6 sc 3.1

 
 
  For “all flesh is like grass,
and all its glory is like a blossom
of the field; the grass withers,
and the flower falls off, but the
saying of Jhvh endures forever.”

- 1 Peter 1: 24,25
                   
Biblical scholars are of the opinion that no other work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted. About the Christian Greek Scriptures, Sir Frederic Kenyon noted that the interval between the time of writing the original manuscripts from that of the older we possess becomes so small documents it is negligible and the last reasons to leave a doubt on the integrity of the text that has survived now are thereby dissipated. The authenticity and the New Testament books of general integrity can be considered established. We can not say enough that, substantially, the text of the Bible is certain. It can not be said of any other book from antiquity.

The Bible, accurately transmitted ?

 

No other work of
Antiquity has been sent
as accurately that
the text of the Bible.

    "The few alterations
the text has undergone a period
nearly one thousand years
is really amazing. "
 
                   
 
   The text of our Bible

is it safe?
   

Modern biblical scholars
give us all reason
to believe that the Bible
reached almost
without any alteration.

 
 
The first known translation of the Hebrew Scriptures is the Greek Septuagint. Made for Greek speaking Jews living outside Palestine, it was completed about two centuries before Jesus' earthly ministry. Speaking of the consequences of such scrupulous care, biblical scholar Hort said: "The vast majority of New Testament words are above all discriminative processes of criticism, because they are free of variations and are transcribed as such . If we ignore the insignificant variations, we believe that the number of words that still raise doubts can hardly represent the thousandth part of the entire New Testament. "Professor Millar Burrows made the remark about manuscripts Dead Sea: "The few changes that the text has undergone a period of almost one thousand years really causes surprise."
                   
 

Saint Jerome in Meditation

inv 1691   Georg Pencz detail
 

Richelieu 2nd Germanic Country Room 8

Jerome worked in the Latin translation
of the Bible from Hebrew texts
and Greek original from 390 to 405 CE
The Vulgate was first drafted
in the common Latin of the time.

This version has provided the basic
text a host of Catholic translators.
 
The study of ancient manuscripts is a science that is becoming more accurate year. If done on a secure and impartially, new translation of the Bible can only be purer and more accurate. Modern biblical scholars give us every reason to believe that the Bible has survived virtually no deterioration.

And the fact that the Bible has survived all the dangers of the truth of this statement of Peter, divinely inspired: " For ' all flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like a blossom of the field; the grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the saying of Jhvh endures forever. ' " -
1 Peter 1: 24,25
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   

 





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