Friday, September 14, 2007

The Transmission of the Text by the Faithful:

The very fact that the Scripture persistently survived the most deleterious conditions throughout its long history demonstrates that indefatigable scribes insisted on its preservation. The books were copied by hand for generations on highly perishable papyrus and animal skins in the relatively damp, hostile climate of Palestine; the dry climate of Egypt, so favorable to the preservation of such materials, provides a vivid contrast. Moreover, the prospects for the survival of texts were uncertain in a land that served as a bridge for armies in unceasing contention between the continents of Africa and Asia--a land whose people were the object of plunderers in their early history and of captors in their later history.

That no other Israelite writings such as the Book of Yashar (e.g., 2 Sam 1:18) or the Diaries of the Kings (e.g., 2 Chr 16:11), survive from this period indirectly suggest the determination of the scribes to preserve the books that became canonical. The foes of Hebrew Scripture sometimes included audiences who sought to kill its authors and destroy their works (cf. Jeremiah36)

From the time of their composition, however, they captured the hearts, minds, and loyalties of the faithful in Israel who kept them safe often at risk to themselves. Such people must have insisted on the accurate transmission of the text. Waltke and O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, p. 16.

I like this paragraph because it clearly demonstrates God's hand of providence in the transmission of the Scriptures, and also because it uses the words "indefatigable" and "deleterious".

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