The English word "bible" is a transliteration of the Greek word βίβλος (English transliteration: biblos). This Greek word is typically translated into English as "book" or "scroll" (cp. Matt. 1:1).
Papyrus used to be exported to the Aegean through the Phonecian city of Geval, which was known as Βύβλος (English transliteration: Byblos) by the Greeks.
The philosopher Theophrastus wrote concerning papyrus (πάπυρος) in his Περί Φυτών Ιστορίας ("On the History of Plants"), Book 4.8.3,
The papyrus itself is useful for many purposes; for they make boats from it, and from the rind (τῆς βίβλου) they weave sails, mats, a kind of rainment, coverlets, ropes, and many other things. Most familiar to foreigners are the papyrus-rolls (τὰ βιβλία) made of it; but above all the plant also is of very great use in the way of food. For all the natives chew the papyrus both raw, boiled, and roasted; they swallow the juice and spit out the quid. Such is the papyrus and its uses. It grows also in Syria about the lake in which grows also sweet-flag; and Antigonus made of it the cables for his ships.
αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ πάπυρος πρὸς πλεῖστα χρήσιμος. καὶ γὰρ πλοῖα ποιοῦσιν ἐξ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐκ τῆς βίβλου ἱστία τε πλέκουσι καὶ ψιάθους καὶ ἐσθῆτά τινα καὶ στρωμνὰς καὶ σχοινία τε καὶ ἕτερα πλείω. καὶ ἐμφανέστατα δὴ τοῖς ἔξω τὰ βιβλία. μάλιστα δὲ καὶ πλείστη βοήθεια πρὸς τὴν τροφὴν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ γίνεται. μασῶνται γὰρ ἅπαντες οἱ ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τὸν πάπυρον καὶ ὠμὸν καὶ ἑφθὸν καὶ ὀπτόν. καὶ τὸν μὲν χυλὸν καταπίνουσι, τὸ δὲ μάσημα ἐκβάλλουσιν. ὁ μὲν οὖν πάπυρος τοιοῦτός τε καὶ ταύτας παρέχεται τὰς χρείας. γίνεται δὲ καὶ ἐν Συρίᾳ περὶ τὴν λίμνην ἐν ᾗ καὶ ὁ κάλαμος ὁ εὐώδης. ὅθεν καὶ Ἀντίγονος εἰς τὰς ναῦς ἐποιεῖτο τὰ σχοινία.
| English & Greek |
For more information, see:
Pliny, Historia Naturalis ("Natural History"), Book XIII, Ch. XXI-XXVI | English | Latin |
Hebrew Bible / Tanakh
The Hebrew scriptures maintained by the Jewish people are commonly referred to in Hebrew by the acronym תַּנַ"ךְ (English transliteration: Tanakh). This acronym stands for תּוֹרָה, נְבִיאִים, כְּתוּבִים (English transliteration: Torah, Nevi'im, Ktuvim), or in English, "Law, Prophets, Writings." Another Hebrew word used in reference to the Hebrew scriptures is מִקְרָא (English transliteration: mikra). The Tanakh consists of twenty-four books. It could be referred to as "the Hebrew Bible," but this phrase isn't commonly expressed in English by the Jewish people to refer to the Tanakh. Most Jews simply say mikra or Tanakh to refer to the collection of the twenty-four books of the Hebrew scriptures.
While the Christian Bible separates I and II Samuel into two books, the Jewish Bible consolidates them into one book (שְׁמוּאֵל; Shmu'el).
While the Christian Bible separates I and II Kings into two books, the Jewish Bible consolidates them into one book (מְלָכִים; Melakhim).
While the Christian Bible separates I and II Chronnicles into two books, the Jewish Bible consolidates them into one book (דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים; Divrei ha-Yamim).
While the Christian Bible separates Ezra and Nehemiah into two books, the Jewish Bible consolidates them into one book (עֶזְרָא/ נְחֶמְיָה; Ezra/ Nechemyah).
In addition, the Christian Bible separates the twelve minor prophets into twelve individual books, but Jewish Bible consolidates the twelve minor prophets into one book.
The Torah (תּוֹרָה) is simply the first five books of the Jewish Bible:
- בְּרֵאשִׁית (English transliteration: Bereshit; lit. "In the beginning," "Genesis")
- שְׁמוֹת (English transliteration: Shmot; lit. "Names of," "Exodus")
- וַיִּקְרָא (English transliteration: Vayikra; lit. "And he called," "Leviticus")
- בְּמִדְבַּר (English transliteration: Bemidbar; lit. "In the wilderness," "Numbers")
- דְּבָרִים (English transliteration: Dvarim; lit. "Words," "Deuteronomy")
It is also known as חֻמָּשׁ (English transliteration: chumash), related to the word חָמֵשׁ (English transliteration: chamesh), meaning "five."
This is commonly known as a תַּרְגּוּם (English transliteration: targum). There are actually multiple targums, or targumim. During a particular era of Jewish history, Aramaic was the predominate language of the Jewish people. Since their scriptures were originally written in Hebrew, yet the Jewish people were more literate in the Aramaic language, a few individuals took the initiative to produce Aramaic translations (and thus, interpretations) of the Hebrew scriptures in order to facilitate the understanding of the Hebrew scriptures. One such individual was Yonatan ben Uzzi'el (יוֹנָתָן בֶּן עוּזִּיאֵל), and another, Unkelos or "Onkelos" (אוּנְקְלוֹס), who was a convert to Judaism. There are a few other targumim beside these, including the Targum Neofiti. Onkelos supposedly made a targum of the Torah alone, while Yonatan ben Uzzi'el supposedly made a targum of the Nevi'im and Ktuvim. However, there's a bit of confusion on this matter.
The Greek Bible, or rather, the Greek Septuagint (also known as "LXX"), but in Greek, ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα, is the Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew Tanakh produced by approximately 70-72 Jewish scholars in approximately 250 B.C. at the behest of King Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt.
The account of this translation is testified by the Jewish historian Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, the Epistle of Aristeas, as well as the Babylonian Talmud.
For more information, see:
- Josephus, "Antiquities of the Jews," Book XII, Ch. II, §1-2 | English & Greek |
- Philo, "On the Life of Moses," Book II, Ch. V-VII, §31-38 | English | Greek |
- Babylonian Talmud, Seder Mo'ed, Tractate Megilla, Chapter 1, Folio 9a-9b | English | Hebrew |
- Epistle of Aristeas, §35-50 | English | Greek |
It should be noted that the original Septuagint is no longer extant (just like the original manuscripts of the Bible are no longer extant). What exists today is essentially a compilation of all the Greek manuscripts of the Hebrew Tanakh that were produced during that era; this is what we call the "Septuagint." One individual responsible for this compilation was Origen who produced the Hexapla.
Sir Lancelot Brenton produced an English translation of the Greek Septuagint in 1851, available here.
(ongoing edit in progress)