Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“Every Jot And Tittle”

Categories: GRAB BAG
     Since the printing press wasn't invented until 1440, who was charged with hand copying the Scriptures up until that time?  Do we owe these men a debt of gratitude?

Writing My Thanks

Dear Writing My Thanks,

The people who copied the New Testament were many and varied, but we know quite a lot about those who copied the Old Testament.  The people who copied the Bible were so accurate and detail-oriented… they would put any OCD accountant to shame.  Those who made copies of the Old Testament were called ‘scribes’.  Ezra, from the book of Ezra, was a scribe (Ezra 7:6).  Scribes are recorded throughout Jewish history, from the time of David (2 Sam 8:17) all the way into the time of Christ (Matt 8:19).  Scribes were so proficient at copying text that they were also employed as lawyers because of their precise knowledge of all things legal.

When scribes copied a biblical text, they had some very stringent rules that they followed.  Secular history tells us that these rules were universal amongst scribes, and the rules were followed very, VERY strictly.  Here are some of those rules:

  1. Every word must be verbalized aloud while writing.
  2. There must be a review within thirty days, and if more than three pages required corrections, the whole document was destroyed.
  3. Letters, words, and paragraphs were counted, and the middle paragraph, word, and letter must correspond to the original document.
  4. If two letters touched, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
  5. Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty, lines.

As you can tell from the list, scribes were exceptionally meticulous about accuracy.  The proof of this accuracy can be seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, amongst them was uncovered a copy of the Book of Isaiah that had been written by scribes.  This copy of Isaiah was ONE THOUSAND years older than any other previous copy.  Yet, over that thousand-year time span, there was no notable disagreement between the manuscripts.  In fact, the only difference between the Dead Sea Scroll copy and the other copies were punctuation marks and spelling differences.  There is no doubt that God has perfectly preserved the Bible over the centuries.