Several sorts of materials were anciently used in making books. Plates of lead or copper, the bark of trees, brick, stone, and wood, were originally employed to engrave such things and documents upon as men desired to transmit to posterity, De 27:2-3; Job 19:23-24. God's laws were written on stone tablets. Inscriptions were also made on tiles and bricks, which were afterwards hardened by fire. Many of these are found in the ruins of Babylon. Tablets of wood, box, and ivory were common among the ancients: when they were of wood only, they were oftentimes coated over with wax, which received the writing inscribed on them with the point of a style, or iron pen, Jer 17:13; and what was written might be effaced by the broad end of a style, Lu 1:63. Afterwards, the leaves of the palm-tree were used instead of wooden tablets, and also the finest and thinnest bark of trees, such as the lime, the ash, the maple, the elm: hence the word liber, which denotes the inner bark of trees, signifies also a book. As these barks were rolled up, to be more readily carried about, the united rolls were called volumen, a volume; a name given likewise to rolls of paper or of parchment. The ancients wrote like-wise on linen. But the oldest material commonly employed for writing upon, appears to have been the papyrus, a reed very common in Egypt and other places, and still found in Sicily and Chaldea. From this comes our word paper. At a later period, parchment from skins was invented in Pergamos, and was there used for rolls or volumes. The pen for writing on these soft materials was a small brush, or a reed split at the end, Jer 36:23. The ink was prepared with lampblack coal of ivory, various gums, etc., and the writing was sometimes permanently fixed by fire. Scribes carried their inkhorns hanging to their girdles, Eze 9:2. The making of paper from linen in its modern form was first known in Europe about A. D. 1300. The art of printing was introduced about one hundred and fifty years later.
An ancient book therefore had the appearance of a thick roll of some paper-like substance, written usually in parallel columns on one side only, and read by gradually unrolling it by means of two small rollers, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the volume. A roll was sometimes sealed, being first tied or wrapped about with a cord, on which the wax was dropped, and stamped by a signet, Isa 29:11; Re 5:1-3.
Ancient writers, instead of writing their books, etc., with their own hand, often employed amanuenses. St. Paul notes it as a particular circumstance, in the epistle to the Galatians, that he had written it with his own hand, Ga 6:11. To other letters he only affixed his salutation with his own hand, 1Co 16:21; Col 4:18; 2Th 3:17. The amanuensis who wrote the epistle to the Romans, has mentioned himself at the close, Ro 16:22. See LETTER.
Book of the Wars of the Lord, Nu 21:14, was probably a sort of military journal, formed of detached odes.
The Book of Jasher, 2Sa 1:18, may perhaps have been a collection of national ballads, one of the forms most used for perpetuating the history of ancient times.
Book of Life, or of the Living, Ps 69:28. It is probable that these descriptive phrases are taken from the custom observed in the courts of princes, of keeping a list of persons who are in their service, of the provinces which they govern, of the officers of their armies, of the number of their troops, and sometimes even of the names of their soldiers. In the figurative style of oriental poetry, God is represented as inscribing the names, acts, and destinies of men in volumes; and the volume in which are thus entered the names of those who are chosen to salvation, is "the book of life," Php 4:3.
This word has a comprehensive meaning in Scripture. In the Old Testament it is the rendering of the Hebrew word sepher, which properly means a "writing," and then a "volume" (Ex 17:14; De 28:58; 29:20; Job 19:23) or "roll of a book" (Jer 36:2,4).
Books were originally written on skins, on linen or cotton cloth, and on Egyptian papyrus, whence our word "paper." The leaves of the book were generally written in columns, designated by a Hebrew word properly meaning "doors" and "valves" (Jer 36:23, R.V., marg. "columns").
Among the Hebrews books were generally rolled up like our maps, or if very long they were rolled from both ends, forming two rolls (Lu 4:17-20). Thus they were arranged when the writing was on flexible materials; but if the writing was on tablets of wood or brass or lead, then the several tablets were bound together by rings through which a rod was passed.
Illustration: Ancient Books
The book of judgment (Da 7:10) refers to the method of human courts of justice as illustrating the proceedings which will take place at the day of God's final judgment.
The book of the wars of the Lord (Nu 21:14), the book of Jasher (Jos 10:13), and the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel (2Ch 25:26), were probably ancient documents known to the Hebrews, but not forming a part of the canon.
The book of life (Ps 69:28) suggests the idea that as the redeemed form a community or citizenship (Php 3:20; 4:3), a catalogue of the citizens' names is preserved (Lu 10:20; Re 20:15). Their names are registered in heaven (Lu 10:20; Re 3:5).
The book of the covenant (Ex 24:7), containing Ex 20:22-23:33, is the first book actually mentioned as a part of the written word. It contains a series of laws, civil, social, and religious, given to Moses at Sinai immediately after the delivery of the decalogue. These were written in this "book."
Eat ... a roll of a book (Eze 2:8-9), meaning, Appropriate its contents in thy mind so entirely that it shall become part of thyself (Eze 3:2). God's messenger must first inwardly possess as his own and him. self digest the truth of God before he can speak it effectually to others, to their believing appropriation of it (Re 10:9). Jer 15:16 is the inspired explanation of the phrase: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." A seal secured books anciently, when designed to be kept secret. A book was then a roll of paper, often written within and on the back (Re 5:1), so as not to be wholly readable until the seal was broken. The fragments readable outside would excite curiosity and the desire to read the whole.
Precisely the nature of God's roll of inspired Scripture, the successive parts being unfolded as God's grand scheme of redemption develops itself; the parts revealed whetting the desire for more and more, until the whole stands forth in its finally consummated perfection. Unbelief seals up to many (however learned) even what is revealed. Docile, childlike receptivity is needed (Isa 29:11; Mt 13:10-17; 11:25). Prophecy in the Old Testament was comparatively a sealed volume until Jesus, who "alone is worthy," "opened the seals" (Da 12:4-9). John reveals what Daniel veils; therefore Daniel is told to "seal the book," John "not to seal the book" (Re 22:10).
Daniel's book was sealed because referring to the then distant future; John's unsealed because the events foretold were immediately to begin their fulfillment. "The book of the living" (Ps 69:28); Php 4:3, "the book of life." the Israelites who came up out of Egypt were entered in a muster roll of the living citizens, called "the writing of the house of Israel," "the book of life" (Eze 13:9). Those who died were erased each year.
An image of God's book of predestination to eternal life (Ps 139:16; 87:6; Ex 32:32; Da 12:1; Lu 10:20; Php 4:3; Re 13:8; 17:8; 21:27). In man's point of view it has in it names of highly privileged professors who have but a name to live, but are dead spiritually, and therefore may be blotted out, as was Judas (Re 3:5; Mt 13:12; 25:29); but in God's point of view it contains those only who are never blotted out, but elected finally to life (Joh 10:28-29; Ac 13:48; Re 20:12,15), "written among the living in (the heavenly) Jerusalem" (Isa 4:3).
1. A roll of papyrus or parchment; see Writing. 2. A sacred or canonical document (Da 9:2); see Canon of OT. 3. 'Book of life,' etc.; see next art. and Eschatology.
The form of ancient books was a long roll with a roller at each end. These rollers were held one in each hand and the book was unrolled from off the one on to the other as the book was read; and this had to be reversed before the book could be read again. They were made of skins, and the writing was usually on one side only; to be written on both sides would show a full record, as in Eze 2:9-10; Re 5:1. The form of a roll explains how a book could have several seals, a portion being rolled up and a seal attached; then another portion rolled up and another seal, like the seven-sealed book of Revelation.
By the ancient nations records were made on cylinders or slabs of stone, or on clay, which was then baked or sun-dried. Many such tablets have been found in the excavations made at Nineveh, Babylon and other places. When Ezra was at work on the city and temple of Jerusalem his opponents wrote to the king of Persia asking that 'the book of the records' might be searched for corroboration of their assertion that Jerusalem had been rebellious. Ezr 4:15. The 'book of the records' was doubtless a collection of stone or clay tablets. In some cases these have been found in such numbers as to form quite a library.
The word BOOK is used symbolically for what a book might contain, as prophecy or predictions. Ezekiel and John were told to eat the books presented to them. Eze 2:8-9; 3:1-3; Re 10:9: cf. Jer 15:16. It is also symbolical of the records that are with man usually written in a book. Ps 56:8; Da 7:10; Mal 3:16; Re 20:12.
Various books are mentioned in scripture which are not now extant.
1. The wars of the Lord. Nu 21:14. The quotation is poetry, so that the book may have been a collection of odes by Moses on the wars of Jehovah.
3. Book of Samuel, concerning 'the manner of the kingdom,' 1Sa 10:25; which was laid up before the Lord.
4. The Acts of Solomon, 1Ki 11:41: probably the public records of the kingdom.
5. Books of Nathan, Gad, Ahijah, and Iddo, concerning the acts of David, and of Solomon, which were doubtless the public records of the nation, with which are associated prophecies of Ahijah and the visions of Iddo. 1Ch 29:29; 2Ch 9:29.
6. Book of Shemaiah the prophet. 2Ch 12:15.
7. Book of Jehu. 2Ch 20:34. These various references show that when the historical parts of the O.T. were written, further information respecting the kingdom was obtainable from the books referred to, if such had been needed; but which was not required for the inspired volume of God.
BOOK, a writing composed on some point of knowledge by a person intelligent therein, for the instruction or amusement of the reader. The word is formed from the Gothic boka, or Saxon boc, which comes from the Northern buech, of buechaus, a beech or service tree, on the bark of which our ancestors used to write. Book is distinguished from pamphlet, or single paper, by its greater length; and from tome or volume, by its containing the whole writing on the subject. Isidore makes this distinction between liber and codex; that the former denotes a single book, the latter a collection of several; though, according to Scipio Maffei, codex signifies a book in the square form; liber, a book in the roll form. The primary distinction between liber and codex seems to have been derived, as Dr. Heylin has observed, from the different materials used for writing among the ancients: from the innerside of the bark of a tree, used for this purpose, and called in Latin liber, the name of liber applied to a book was deduced; and from that tablet, formed from the main body of a tree, called caudex, was derived the appellation of codex.
2. Several sorts of materials were formerly used in making books: stone and wood were the first materials employed to engrave such things upon as men were desirous of having transmitted to posterity. Porphyry makes mention of some pillars preserved in Crete, on which the ceremonies observed by the Corybantes in their sacrifices were recorded. The works of Hesiod were originally written on tables of lead, and deposited in the temple of the Muses in Boeotia. The laws of Jehovah were written on tables of stone, and those of Solon on wooden planks. Tables of wood and ivory were common among the ancients: those of wood, were very frequently covered with wax, that persons might write on them with more ease, or blot out what they had written. And the instrument used to write with was a piece of iron, called a style; and hence the word "style" came to be taken for the composition of the writing. The leaves of the palm-tree were afterward used instead of wooden planks, and the finest and thinnest part of the bark of such trees as the lime, ash, maple, and elm; and especially the tilio, or phillyrea, and Egyptian papyrus. Hence came the word liber, (a book,) which signifies the inner bark of the trees. And as these barks were rolled up in order to be removed with greater ease, each roll was called volumen, a volume; a name afterward given to the like rolls of paper or parchment. From the Egyptian papyrus the word paper is derived. After this, leather was introduced, especially the skins of goats and sheep. For the king of Pergamus, in collecting his library, was led to the invention of parchment made of those skins. The ancients likewise wrote upon linen. Pliny says, the Parthians, even in his time, wrote upon their clothes; and Livy speaks of certain books made of linen, lintei libri, upon which the names of magistrates, and the history of the Roman commonwealth, were written, and preserved in the temple of the goddess Moneta.
3. The materials generally used by the ancients for their books, were liable to be easily destroyed by the damp, when hidden in the earth; and in times of war, devastation, and rapacity, it was necessary to bury in the earth whatever they wished to preserve from the attacks of fraud and violence. With this view, Jeremiah ordered the writings, which he delivered to Baruch, to be put in an earthen vessel, Jeremiah 32. In the same manner the ancient Egyptians made use of earthen urns, or pots of a proper shape, for containing whatever they wanted to inter in the earth, and which, without such care, would have been soon destroyed. We need not wonder then, that the Prophet Jeremiah should think it necessary to inclose those writings in an earthen pot, which were to be buried in Judea, in some place where they might be found without much difficulty on the return of the Jews from captivity. Accordingly two different writings, or small rolls of writing, called books in the original Hebrew, were designed to be inclosed in such an earthen vessel; but commentators have been much embarrassed in giving any probable account of the necessity of two writings, one sealed, the other open; or, as the passage has been commonly understood, the one sealed up, the other left open for any one to read; more especially, as both were to be alike buried in the earth and concealed from every eye, and both were to be examined at the return from the captivity. But the word translated open, in reference to the evidence, or book which was open, (1Sa 3:7,21; Da 2:19,30; 10:1,) signifies the revealing of future events to the minds of men by a divine agency; and it is particularly used in the book of Es 8:13, to express a book's making known the decree of an earthly king. Consequently the open book of Jeremiah seems to signify, not its being then lying open or unrolled before them, while the other was sealed up; but the book that had revealed the will of God, to bring back Israel into their own country, and to cause buying and selling of houses and lands again to take place among them. This was a book of prophecy, opening and revealing the future return of Israel, and the other little book, which was ordered to be buried along with it, was the purchase deed.
4. By adverting to the different modes of writing in eastern countries, we obtain a satisfactory interpretation of a passage in the book of Job 19:23-24, and a distinct view of the beautiful gradation which is lost in our translation: "O that my words were now written! O that they were printed (written) in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!" In the east there is a mode of writing, which is designed to fix words in the memory, but the writing is not intended for duration. Accordingly we are informed by Dr. Shaw, that children learn to write in Barbary by means of a smooth thin board, slightly covered with whiting, which may be wiped off or renewed at pleasure. Job expresses his wish not only that his words were written, but also written in a book, from which they should not be blotted out, nay, still farther, graven in a rock, the most permanent mode of recording them, and especially if the engraved letters were filled with lead; or the rock was made to receive leaden tablets, the use of which was known among the ancients. So Pliny, "At first men wrote on the leaves of palm, and the bark of certain trees, but afterward public documents were preserved on leaden plates, and those of a private nature on wax, or linen."
5. The first books were in the form of blocks and tables, of which we find frequent mention in Scripture, under the appellation sepher, which the Septuagint render ??????, that is, square tables: of which form the book of the covenant, book of the law, book or bill of divorce, book of curses, &c, appear to have been. As flexible matters came to be written on, they found it more convenient to make their books in form of rolls, called by the Greeks ????????, by the Latins volumina, which appear to have been in use among the ancient Jews as well as the Grecians, Romans, Persians, and even Indians; and of such did the libraries chiefly consist, till some centuries after Christ. The form which obtains among us is the square, composed of separate leaves; which was also known, though little used, among the ancients; having been invented by Attalus, king of Pergamus, the same who also invented parchment: but it has now been so long in possession, that the oldest manuscripts are found in it. Montfaucon assures us, that of all the ancient Greek manuscripts he has seen, there are but two in the roll form; the rest being made up much after the manner of the modern books. The rolls, or volumes, were composed of several sheets, fastened to each other, and rolled upon a stick, or umbilicus; the whole making a kind of column, or cylinder, which was to be managed by the umbilicus, as a handle; it being reputed a kind of crime to take hold of the roll itself. The outside of the volume was called frons; the ends of the umbilicus were called cornua, "horns;" which were usually carv