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The Old Testament Continued

Now, back in the really, really old days, they didn’t have paper like we know it today. Some of the earliest manuscripts were written on Papyrus. Papyrus is a thin paper-like material made from crushed and flattened stalks of the papyrus reed, which grows along the Nile River in Egypt (papyrus business doc). Later, God’s Word was written on scrolls made of animal skin, usually sheep, but sometimes deer or cow. The entire Pentateuch, written on a scroll, if completely unraveled, is over 150 feet long! As most sheep are only about two to three feet long, it took an entire flock of sheep to make just one Torah scroll! In time, paper was developed.

About 400 B.C, the last book of the Old Testament was written. There were other books written during the period between the Old and New Testaments. They’re known as the Apocrypha. The Jews rejected them. The early church rejected them. It wasn’t until 1546, at the Council of Trent, that the Catholic Church accepted them as Scripture. They did so primarily for two reasons: (1) In reaction to the Protestant Reformation, and (2) because among these books one can find support for some of the false beliefs of the church, such as praying for the souls of the dead, purgatory, and a faith plus works salvation. What is amazing is that though Protestants have never considered these books to be inspired Scripture, they were still included in most of our Bibles up until the late 1800’s. One reason they were was because some early Church fathers deemed them worthy writings of godly men, good for instruction. Martin Luther included them in his Bible with the title, “Books which are not held equal to the sacred Scriptures, and nevertheless are useful and good to read.” A second reason for their inclusion is because, in the early 1600’s, King James threatened his translators and printers with heavy fines and imprisonment if they left the Apocrypha out of the Bible.

The Apocrypha

Papyrus fragment

ca. 7th century A.D.

1275 Friars Bible b

The book of 2 Esdras from a Friar's Bible on Vellum, ca. 1275 A.D.

7th Century Greek cursive fragment Next Page