Where are the original Bible books

(ORDO NEWS) — Believe it or not, we don’t have the original Bible books. The “authentic” text of the Bible, compiled thanks to painstaking research work from many ancient manuscripts stored in museums and libraries. However, oddly enough, today the text of many books of the Bible is more reliable than the works of such ancient authors as Homer, Aeschylus or Plato, preserved only in manuscripts of the 9th-11th centuries. according to R. X. – i.e. in texts written 1400-1700 years after the creation of the original, while the manuscripts that formed the basis of the Bible are separated from the original sources by a much shorter time frame. In total, according to 1989 data, the following number of different cataloged types of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament is known today:

  • Papyri (This was the material for the writing of the “poor man”, and before it was used in the form of a code (in the form of a book), it was used as a scroll, written on both sides) – 96
  • Uncial manuscripts (Codices and parchment scrolls, on which the text is carved in large (capital) letters of the Greek alphabet) – 299
  • Minuscular Manuscripts (or italics written in cursive Greek and dating from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries) – 2812
  • Lectionaries (Service Books for Church Worship These texts contain “lessons” or “passages” from Scripture.) – 2281
  • Total – 5488

For comparison, I will give the number of surviving manuscripts of the works of some ancient authors: only 2 manuscripts have survived from Euripides, 1 from the Annals of Tacitus, 11 from Plato, 50 from Aeschylus, about 100 from Virgil and Sophocles.

Sinai codes. All of them are dated (paleographically, that is, on the basis of the “handwriting style”) of the 4th century. AD The language of the codes is Greek. As a result of the analysis of these codes, the main text of the New Testament was developed, accessible to every theologian.

The Vatican Codex – came to the Vatican around 1475, the first mention of it in the Vatican Library dates back to 1481. Before that, its history is vague. It was written in the period 350-370. AD, presumably in Italy, and for eleven centuries has been preserved in good condition. This manuscript is written on fine parchment (i.e. tanned animal skin) and contains 759 pages, measuring 10/10.5 inches (or 25.4/26.6 cm), each containing three narrow columns of forty-one lines. in each column. 8 The manuscript includes the Epistle to Barnabas and the Apocrypha. According to Tischendorf, the Vatican manuscript was written by the same person who wrote the Sinaiticus, however, the Pope claims that the Sinaiticus (Aleph) was written earlier, judging by the sections in the Gospels. 11 Missing passages from the Vatican manuscript: from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 46:28, from Psalm 106 to Psalm 138, Ev. Matthew 16:2-3, Romans 16:24, Paul’s letters, Revelation and Hebrews 9:14.

The Code of Alexandria was presented to the English King Charles I in 1628 by Patriarch Cyril Loukaris. It is written on 733 sheets of parchment, 26.3 / 31.4 cm in size, in two columns with the text of Scripture, forty-one lines each. 24 It lacks passages of Jn. 6:50-8:52; 2 Cor. 4:13-12:6; 3 Kings 12:20-14:19; Matt. 1:1-25:6; Genesis 15:1-5; Gen. 14:14-17 and Genesis 16-19. It also contains the remains of the Epistles of Clement (probably dated to 95-100 AD). It is tentatively written around 400-450 AD.

The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in the 19th century by Konstantin Tischendorf, and this story deserves a separate story. Its parchment is inferior in thickness to that of the Vatican manuscript. This is the only uncial manuscript that contains almost the entire New Testament (except John 5:4, 8:1-11; Matt. 16:2-3; Rom. 16:24; Mark 16:9-20; 1 John 5 :7; Acts 8:37). He also transposes The Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle to Barnabas into the New Testament, and originally contained part of the Didache. It was written around 350-370. AD on 147 and a half sheets of parchment, four columns of forty-eight lines per page. 13 Each page measures 15/13.5 inches (38/34.3 cm).

Excerpts from New Testament writings have been found, and earlier than the Codex Sinaiticus. So, in December 1945 in Upper Egypt, near the ancient settlement of Henoboskion (modern Nag Hammadi district), local peasants accidentally discovered an ancient library containing books of the New Testament dating back to 2-4 centuries.

The oldest “material evidence” is a piece of papyrus the size of a palm, discovered in Egypt in 1920 by Dr. B. Grenfell, who, however, did not attach much importance to it. Only in 1934, another scientist, Dr. S. H. Roberts, while examining the papyri of the so-called Manchester library of D. Ryland (the owner of the collection of papyri), drew attention to him. After research, he realized that he had found an ancient papyrus containing verses from the Gospel of John and dating from about 125 A.D. and, therefore, about 30 years younger than the original, compiled about 95 A.D. The papyrus was not found in Palestine, the home of the original, but in the sands of the Egyptian desert, which makes it possible to imagine how quickly the New Testament writings spread.

The Old Testament is more difficult.

Before the discovery of the Qumran scrolls (2nd century BC), the oldest Jewish manuscripts were the manuscript of the British Museum (895 AD), two manuscripts of the Leningrad Public Library (916 and 1008 AD). ) and a manuscript from Aleppo (Code of Aaron Ben-Assher) – 10th century A.D. … Moreover, only a document of 1008 AD contained a fully Old Testament Bible, although manuscripts of a later time, mainly the middle of the XIII century AD, were kept in many national bookstores. That is why the Qumran discovery became a sensation. But even more sensational was the fact that the studies did not reveal any significant discrepancies in the texts! The book of Isaiah in the Bible known to us absolutely corresponds to the list that has already been two thousand years old.

Today, the most ancient text of the Old Testament is considered to be two damaged silver sheets 97×27 and 39×11 mm in size, found in the tomb, from the time of the First Temple, Kitevhinn, located in the valley with the famous name – geykhennom – or fiery hell. . This sacred blessing text from the Book of Numbers is 500 years older than the biblical scrolls found at Qumran.

There is another fact of great importance – the Hebrew written language originally had neither vowels (except for A), nor signs that replaced them … The books of the Old Testament were written almost exclusively by consonants.

Imagine how accurate a letter written with only consonants can be in our time, when, for example, KRV can mean: blood, curve, shelter, cow, etc. etc.

At first, the Hebrew alphabet, like other West Semitic languages, contained only consonants (for example, in the oldest Hebrew inscription found so far, the so-called Gezer calendar, carved about three centuries after Moses, the word “harvest” – “kazir” – is transmitted only three root consonants). To avoid the difficulties of reading that inevitably arose as a result, some of these consonants (in particular “ain”) were also used as vowels close to them in sound. In the second stage (starting from the tenth century BC), this sporadic use of consonants as vowels was expanded – first in Aramaic, and then in Hebrew itself, not one or two, but four whole consonants began to be used for the same purpose: vav, aleph, jud and hey. But this turned out to be insufficient, since these letters simultaneously remained consonants, each of them represented more than one vowel, and, finally, there was no unambiguity and systematicity in their use. Therefore, in the VI-VIII centuries AD. e. a system of so-called diacritical marks (dots and dashes under and above letters) was invented, which we today call “vocalization”, or “nekudot system”.

So, if we now take the Hebrew Bible or manuscript, we will find in them a skeleton of consonants filled with dots and other signs denoting missing vowels. But these signs did not belong to the Hebrew Bible… The books were read one by one consonants, filling them with vowels… according to their skill and in accordance with the seeming requirements of meaning and oral traditions.

It is assumed that “this serious deficiency in the Hebrew Bible was removed no earlier than the 7th or 8th century AD” when the Masoretes revised the Bible and “added … signs to replace vowels; but they had no guidance other than their own judgment and tradition.”

Formerly it was believed that vowels were introduced into the Hebrew text by Ezra in the 5th century B.C. … When, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Levita and Capellus in France refuted this opinion and proved that vowel signs were introduced only by the Masoretes, … this discovery became a sensation throughout Protestant Europe. It seemed to many that the new theory would lead to the complete overthrow of religion. If the vowel signs were not the work of divine revelation, but were only a human invention and, moreover, of a much later time, then how could one rely on the text of scripture? …

If the vocalization of ordinary words is not so fundamental, then the situation changes radically when a combination appears in the ancient text, meaning the name of a city, country, name. For example, the name of God.

That is why the first Greek translation of the Old Testament – the Septuagint, made at a time when Hebrew was still a living language, acquired great importance, although the translation often did not always convey shades. For example, in the well-known name Jesus, only one sound remained from the original sound – [y]. More

Septuagint and Bible translations

The legend tells that King Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BC), having learned from Demetrius of Phaleron, who was in charge of the royal book depository, about the existence of the Scriptures of Moses in Judea, decided to organize the translation of the Law into Greek and the delivery of books to the Library of Alexandria .

To this end, Ptolemy sent a letter to the Jerusalem high priest Eleazar: “Wishing to please all the Jews living on earth, I decided to start translating your Law and, having translated it from Hebrew into Greek, place this book among the works of my library. Therefore, you will do well if you choose six elderly men from each tribe, who, due to the length of their studies in their laws, are highly experienced in them and could translate it accurately. I think to acquire the greatest fame for myself by this work. Therefore, I am sending you for negotiations regarding this […] Andrew and Aristaeus, who both enjoy the greatest honor in my eyes.

In response, the high priest sent seventy-two learned scribes to the king, six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. These seventy-two men settled on the island of Pharos, where each one translated the entire text of the Pentateuch alone within 72 days. Not only did they finish the translations at the same time – all the resulting texts sounded exactly the same! After that, the translation received its name – the Septuagint or “Translation of the Seventy.” .15; Clement of Alexandria. Stromata. I – II).

This whole story is based on a work known in the literature under the name of the Letter of Aristaeus to Philocrates, the falsity of which is now beyond doubt. (It was compiled no earlier than the middle of the 2nd century BC.)

In reality, however, things happened somewhat differently. In the last centuries before the beginning of the new era in Egypt, especially in Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, there were many Jews. They spoke in Greek, and therefore the need for its translation appeared. So in the III century. BC began to translate the Old Testament writings, completed only in the next century.

However, no one can today provide a manuscript of the Old Testament in Greek dated earlier than 300 BC. AD The earliest manuscript that can be called a translation of the Old Testament into Greek is the Ryland Papyrus (No. 458), which contains several chapters from Deuteronomy 23-28. But even this piece of papyrus dates back to 150 BC. There is only one mention of the Pentateuch translated into Greek under Ptolemy of Philadelphia. (Eusebius (260-340) quotes Aristobulus (Praep. Ev. XIII 12,664b).

And one more note. In those days, a book was often referred to by its first significant word. The first book of Moses, written in the original Hebrew, begins with the word “bereshit” (“In the beginning”). In the Greek version of the Bible, the Jewish tradition of using initial words as titles was broken, and descriptive titles were used. So the First Book of Moses was called “Genesis” (in the Church Slavonic tradition – Genesis), translated from Greek – “origin”, although in the Hebrew original it begins with the word “bereshit” (“In the beginning”).

In the first Christian centuries, new translations of the Bible appeared (into the languages ​​of other peoples of the Roman Empire). In the middle of the second century AD, the Old Testament was translated into Syriac – this is the so-called Peshitta, or Peshitto (Peshitto), that is, simple. The oldest known Peshitta manuscript dates back to the beginning of the 5th century. In our time, the Peshitta has two traditions – Western and Eastern.

The first Latin translation began to circulate before 210 AD. and (as the Byzantine Receptus in Greek) it was the work of the direct efforts of African Christians. The best-known Latin translation, the Vulgate vernacular, was begun in AD 386 by the learned Jerome and completed by him in 405. In 1546, the Council of Trent declared the Vulgate to be the authentic text of the Bible. In 1589, under Pope Sixtus V, and then in 1592, under Pope Clement VIII, the final version of the Vulgate was published and accepted by the Catholic Church as the official text of the Bible.

The first German Bible, translated by Ulfila, “the Apostle of the Goths”, who had to create a Gothic font, dates back to the 4th century. So the Ulfilas Bible simultaneously became the first monument of Gothic writing. A particularly valuable copy of the Gothic Bible, a purple-dyed parchment with silver and gold type, is kept today in the Swedish city of Uppsala, Sweden.

Translations of the Old Testament and into Aramaic were undertaken – the so-called Targumim (translations). The most authoritative of them are: Targum Onkelos (translation of the Torah) and Targum Jonathan (translation of N’biim, attributed to Jonathan ben-Uziel).

Of interest is HEXAPLA, a book written by Origen Adamantius (184-254 AD), which contained six translations of the Old Testament. These six translations were arranged in vertical columns, with three additional translations appearing at times after the sixth column. The first column was the Old Testament in Hebrew.

There is great disagreement among “theologians” as to which Hebrew text Origen used. The SECOND column of “Hexapla” is a Greek transliteration of the Old Testament, where Greek letters were used to reproduce the Hebrew text. This was followed by the translation of Acilla (95-137 AD), the translation of Symmachius (160-211), the translation of Origen himself (184-254 AD, sometimes this column is called a revision of some copy of the Septuagint). and finally the translation of Theodosius (140-190 AD)…

Basically, everyone agrees that the fifth column of the Hexapla (which Origen himself wrote!) represents an older and more perfect Hebrew text than that presented in the FIRST column. But since the only available copy of this manuscript was written 125 years after Origen’s death, it is difficult for theologians to show the connection. This “public opinion” is like the opinion of the people about some authority that they would like to get rid of.

In the history of the Church, more than once there have been tendencies to recognize this or that translation as inspired by God and the only one acceptable. This tendency manifested itself especially in relation to the Septuagint and the Vulgate. But gradually the leadership of the churches came to the idea of ​​the need for a certain pluralism, although the category of church-tested, generally accepted, as it were, canonical translations was preserved.

The Bible came to Russia along with Christianity. Its translation into Old Church Slavonic was made from the Greek language according to the edition of the Septuagint (Lucian review, c. 280 AD) by Cyril and Methodius (IX century); it has not been completely preserved. Already in 1056 – 1057. the so-called Ostromir Gospel (“Gospel Aprakos”) was written off from the Eastern Bulgarian original. Then came the Arkhangelsk (1092), Mstislav Ovo (1117), Yuriev (1120), Galician (1144) and Dobrilovic (1164) Gospels.

In the second half of the 15th century, the Jew-convert Theodore translated from the Hebrew language the Psalter and the Book of Esther; he probably owns the edition of the Old Slavonic translations of the Pentateuch and the Prophets.

At the end of the 15th century, the Novgorod archbishop Gennady undertook the “collection” of the full text of the Bible, and some books were translated from the Vulgate (the First and Second Books of Chronicles, the First and Third Books of Ezra, the books of Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, the books of Maccabees and partly the book of Jesus the son of Sirach). This tradition was followed by the Ostroh edition of the Bible (1581), but during its preparation a number of books were translated from Greek. In 1663, the Ostroh edition, with some editorial corrections, was reprinted in Moscow – the Moscow Bible. Subsequently, with some corrections, the Elizabethan Bible was published (1751, 1759 …. 1872 …. 1913).

In 1680, the Rhymed Psalter by Simeon of Polotsk (1629-1680) was published in Moscow; in 1683, Avraam Firsov, the translator of the Ambassadorial Order, also translated the Psalter into Russian, but this translation was immediately banned by Patriarch Joachim.

By 1698, pastor I.E. Gluck had prepared a complete translation of the Bible into Russian, but during the Northern War, when Russian troops captured Marienburg in 1703, where Gluck lived, this work perished.

In 1812, the Russian Bible Society was organized in Russia, which published translations into Russian of some books of the Bible (the Psalter, partly the Pentateuch) in the 1820s. In November 1825, Alexander I banned the publication of these translations, and in 1826 the activities of the Russian Bible Society ceased.

The synod rejected all translations of the Bible into Russian, and only in 1856 it raised the question of the need for a translation. This work began in 1860, and in 1867 a conference of the Kyiv, Moscow and Kazan Theological Academies reviewed and verified all the material. The result of this work was the publication in 1868-1872 of the Synodal Translation of the Bible, which became canonical for the Russian Orthodox Church.

In English-speaking countries, the Bible of King James I is mainly used, who in 1611 commissioned 52 scholars to create an English translation of the Bible for the needs of English-speaking Protestants.


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