A Message for All Ages: “The Codex”

By the second century, the codex was the preferred format for preserving and transporting the written word among Christians evangelists and scholars, and it is thought that the spread of Christianity both drove, and was facilitated by, the adoption of the codex in place of scrolls.

codex sinaiticus St Catherine's
The Codex Siniaticus is the oldest known complete text of the Bible, from ca. 350 AD. This copy was discovered in 1844 at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai (hence its name).

A short history of the codex and why it was so important to the development and spread of Christianity.  Portions of this outline were presented in an informal “Message for All Ages” at ARK Community Church in Dalton, MA; Feb 1, 2016.

Prior to the first century CE (or so), nearly all written documents were in the form of single sheets or scrolls.

Because of the difficulty of unrolling scrolls to find particular passages and then having to roll them up again, longer books were often broken up into multiple scrolls. You can see this even today in the segmentation of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles in the Hebrew Scriptures, both of which were originally single continuous texts.

And, because of the difficulty of managing and storing scrolls, very short books were often collated together into a single scroll.  For instance, the 12 minor Hebrew prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Job, Malachi, etc.), were often kept together in one or two scrolls.

The word “Codex” is from the Latin word for “wood” or “block” and is the technical term for a folio of pages stitched together.  In other words, a book.  The codex was developed by the Romans shortly before the time of Christ, Julius Ceasar may have been the first prominent Roman to use them.

Continue reading “A Message for All Ages: “The Codex””

“Bible Mindedness”

bibleI find a recent survey done by the “American Bible Society” quite troubling, not just because of the conclusions the survey’s authors present, but also because of the criteria used in evaluating where people stood on what the ABS termed “Bible Mindedness.”

The authors of this study evaluated “Bible Mindedness” using the following criteria: “Respondents who report reading the bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as ‘Bible Minded…’”

I take strong exception to this, as I find just as many devout and thoughtful Christians here in the Boston area (which was near the bottom of the study’s rankings) as I do anywhere.  The criteria used here heavily skew the results towards a very narrow and slanted view of what “Bible Mindedness” means.

For me, reading the Bible on a nearly constant basis should not equate to “Bible Mindedness” because such a practice assumes the Bible can be relevant and useful to us in our daily lives entirely without reference to the world in which we live, an assumption that is deeply flawed.

Reading other works that reflect upon the Bible and our faith, such the writings of various theologians, works of poetry, histories, science, novels, the Talmud, the Koran, etc; all provide new insights about how our faith impacts us and impacts the world around us.  Such readings help us gain a greater appreciation of the variety and magnificence of God’s Creation.  And, they provide new and deeper revelations of what our faith means to us, and how we can apply that faith to the challenges of life, as well as helping us attain a broader perspective of what it means to be a person of faith.

Since God is infinite, God must encompass an infinitude of perspectives.  Therefore, limiting ourselves to a single (and literal) perspective of the Bible limits us in our understanding of Creation and of our relationship with our Creator.

So for me, being a person of faith – being “Bible Minded” – means using the Bible as a starting point – not an end point.  A view shared by many who were dismissed (by the criteria used in this survey) as “not engaged with the Bible” and not using the Bible to make sense of [their] life.

Copyright (c) 2014, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or gaining) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site). 

Like the Bible Says… | The Congregational Church of Westborough

Like the Bible Says… | The Congregational Church of Westborough

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy friend (and fellow Andover Newton graduate) Pedro S. Silva is right on target with this meditation on the lack of knowledge that most of us have nowadays (including ministers!) of what’s really in the Bible; and the net of mis-appellation and misinterpretation we build around it as a result of that illiteracy.