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music4christ
Sep 3rd 2008, 01:51 AM
Okay, so as I recall, the Bible was mostly told orally throughout the old times before there was a printing press. So I was thinking, how do people know exactly what was written word-for-word from way back then? Or was there one written record of the ancient Bible scriptures that was kept for all that time?

I'm just thinking about this because there's some controversy on how the OT was translated from Hebrew, and I'm learning about these differences in my class here at school.

Thanks in advance for your help! (I'm probably just forgetting something simple, but oh well, can't hurt to ask smart people.;))

markedward
Sep 3rd 2008, 02:27 AM
Traditionally (within Christianity), Moses himself was the author of the Torah (the first five books of the OT), based on certain passages. The exception to this would be, of course, at the end of Deuteronomy where Moses' death is recorded (unless we assume he wrote about his own death before he actually died).

Deuteronomy 31.9 "... and Moses wrote this law..."

Deuteronomy 31.24 "... Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book..."

These verses, taken alongside Joshua 1.7-8, 2 Kings 23.21,25, 2 Chronicles 8.13, 2 Chronicles 34.14, 2 Chronicles 35.12, Ezra 3.2, Ezra 6.18, Nehemiah 8.1, Nehemiah 13.1, seem to imply that the Torah was given to Moses and that he wrote it down at the very time he was given it from God. So, internally, the Bible testifies that the Torah was written down immediately upon receival from God, leaving no real room for oral tradition to distort it or anything.

From there on, we can reasonably assume that most of the Old Testament was written down by the people who claimed to write them, or by people who closely knew them.

Kings and Chronicles repeatedly say things such as "as for [blank], is it not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?" (e.g., 2 Kings 23.28, 2 Chronicles 20.34) or "The other events are written in the annotations of [blank]" (e.g., 2 Chronicles 13.22).

To me, these indicate that Kings (1 and 2 Kings) and Chronicles (1 and 2 Chronicles) are "abridged" histories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Verses such as the few I mentioned above show that Kings and Chronicles were drawn from various other writings already in existence, many of which were likely written while the events were in progression. Compare this to a history book of the American Civil War being based upon the many books and letters and commentaries that were written during the time the Civil War was actually taking place.

The Psalms are attributed directly to King David and other people; in fact, we can trace back to other books (Samuel, for example) and find out exactly when David had written down such-and-such psalm. The Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs are attributed to Solomon, so it is not unreasonable to presume that they were recorded by royal record-keepers, or even by Solomon himself.

Many of the prophets were contemporaneous with the timeline presented in Kings and Chronicles, and some of the things they say are verbatim found in those history books. Whereas in one passage we can see that the writer of Chronicles was citing the writings of the "prophet Iddo" (2 Chronicles 13.22), we could also say that the writer of Chronicles was directly quoting the writing of someone such as the prophet Jeremiah, or that the writer of Kings was directly quoting the writing of someone such as the prophet Isaiah.

Internally, the majority of the OT testifies to its own authorship, or at least gives us reasonable contexts to deduce who or when the authors lived and how they came up with their writings. All in all, they don't leave us with very much "oral tradition," with the exception of certain books (Job, Ruth, Esther, as examples, don't give us strong clues as to who wrote them).

music4christ
Sep 3rd 2008, 03:09 AM
I suppose that makes sense. It's just amazing to me how long these writings have been around. More amazing that they haven't been changed or altered at all.

Are there other books like the Bible (obviously not God-inspired), but just really long lasting like the Bible? What I mean is, are there any other books older or as old as the Bible?

markedward
Sep 3rd 2008, 03:17 AM
Try checking out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_literature, which has a good list of ancient literature, some of which is religious.

seamus414
Sep 3rd 2008, 03:42 AM
Okay, so as I recall, the Bible was mostly told orally throughout the old times before there was a printing press. So I was thinking, how do people know exactly what was written word-for-word from way back then? Or was there one written record of the ancient Bible scriptures that was kept for all that time?

I'm just thinking about this because there's some controversy on how the OT was translated from Hebrew, and I'm learning about these differences in my class here at school.

Thanks in advance for your help! (I'm probably just forgetting something simple, but oh well, can't hurt to ask smart people.;))


The creation of new manuscripts under Jewish Law is extremely strict. From what I understand, a single incorrect word warranted burning the sheet one was writing on and starting anew. These sorts of extremely ridgid methds preserved the text through the ages. It is an established fact that even the most ardernt of non-Christians have to admit that the Bible is the most plentiful (in terms of ancient copies), most complete, and most well preserved out of all other extant ancient documents combined. So, they did some good work!

music4christ
Sep 3rd 2008, 04:03 AM
The creation of new manuscripts under Jewish Law is extremely strict. From what I understand, a single incorrect word warranted burning the sheet one was writing on and starting anew. These sorts of extremely ridgid methds preserved the text through the ages. It is an established fact that even the most ardernt of non-Christians have to admit that the Bible is the most plentiful (in terms of ancient copies), most complete, and most well preserved out of all other extant ancient documents combined. So, they did some good work!


Try checking out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_literature, which has a good list of ancient literature, some of which is religious.

Cool! Thanks for your help and explanations, guys!