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You might ask why I would be concerned with bringing the history of the Bible to a more popular audience. We inevitably and must see the world through the lens of a story. A story is a description of the implicit structure through which we view the world and prioritize our perceptions and determine how to act. Now because you can act in a very large variety of ways, that plethora of possibility has to be limited and focused. It has to come to a point. It has to have a destination. It has to have a moral. It has to have an ethic. And what a story is, is a description of an ethic of potential and action prioritization.
Peace is dependent upon us being brought together under the rubric of a single centralizing narrative, much of which is reflected in the meta-narrative that the biblical library constitutes. So I hope you enjoy this tour through the history of the world's most significant book. I didn't really know what to think to begin with. Being a northern Albertan cynic, I thought of the Museum of the Bible as kind of a backwards fundamentalist enterprise in all likelihood, and that turned out to be unbelievably wrong. I didn't really understand until I walked through the museum, or I didn't understand as deeply as I might have, how key the Bible was to the spread of literacy in general around the world.
I'm Brian Hyland. I'm the Associate Curator of Medieval Manuscripts here at Museum of the Bible. What that means is I get to work with manuscripts that were produced in Western Europe from about the year 800 up to the 1500s. When we walk into the fourth floor, the history of the Bible, we see in front of us a mural. And this mural kind of encapsulates the entire history of the text. On the far left, what you see is the Great Isaiah Scroll. It's one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And it represents the original Hebrew texts. To its right, we have what we call the Bodmer Psalms.
The Bodmer Psalms are actually a codex, so the idea of a modern kind of hardcover book. And then to the right of that, what you see is a medieval psalter. And this is the rice psalter. It's a 15th century Latin text. It represents the manuscript tradition. Immediately to its right, what we have is the Gutenberg Bible. We're going from manuscript to printing and the impact of the printing press. To the right of the Gutenberg, there is a leaf from the King James Bible. Printing kind of dominates the world down to the late 20th and early 21st centuries. And so representing where we are today at this moment, we have a cell phone.
And on the cell phone, somebody has a Bible app in Korean using the Hangul script. Some of those online biblical sites are extremely useful because you can go through the biblical writings verse by verse with 50 translations simultaneously. And it's so interesting to see the different interpretations of the translations because it fleshes out the connotations and the poetic allusions in the text and cross references as well. And what this means is that the Bible is a text that reaches out and it's still being interpreted today. You look at the phone and the potential of the phone, then you see all the languages in your list. This is the first moment in human history.
The Bible has been available in almost every language and dialect. I hope you're enjoying Logos and Literacy so far. Before you get further immersed, I wanted to share an important announcement with you. I partnered with the Daily Wire Plus, completing the second half of a 16 part seminar in the Book of Exodus with a round table of great colleagues, including Jonathan Pagio, Dennis Prager and Ben Shapiro. A tremendous amount of fun. I am very interested in the Exodus story, deep archetypal story, and I thought I could gather a group of scholars around me and walk me through the book. Exodus is ex hotos, that's the Greek, and it means the way forward.
We all need a way forward and Exodus is the archetypal story of the way forward. So you might find if you're searching for direction and meaning in your life and also for a certain degree of security, you might find it extraordinarily useful. I certainly did. The first nine episodes are available now on Daily Wire Plus with the new episodes coming out each week. Perhaps you'll consider becoming a Daily Wire Plus member so you can benefit from the fruits of our collective labour. You can click the link in the description to sign up. And with that, back to Logos and Literacy. Thank you for your time and attention.
I've read analysis of the story in Genesis linking it to the Mesopotamian creation myth, the story of Marduk and Tiamat. Apparently the word Tiamat is, what do they say, etymologically cognate. I think that's the right phrase with the Hebrew phrase, tohu vabohu, and that's the chaos that God makes order out of at the beginning of time. And it looks like it's analogous symbolically with the idea that Marduk is contending with Tiamat, the force of chaos, to bring about order and to reestablish it. I don't know if the Hebrew text was influenced by the Mesopotamian text or vice versa, or if they both come out of an older historical tradition or if it's some combination of both.
You've got the Hebrews in a historical environment. And so you've got ideas that are shared back and forth and common ways of looking at things. So that idea of chaos, which you find also in so many creation stories from around the world, is that in the beginning that there is this disordered state out of which— Confused, unformed, full of potential. And out of that comes the order. You know, John 1 begins with, in the beginning was the word, the word was with God. The word was God. God is before all time. If he is the creator of the world, he created beauty. Beauty and truth are linked together.
The postmodernists will tell us that beauty doesn't exist, it only exists in whatever you can create for yourself in life. But we believe that all the evidence around us points to a world, to music, to human love that all point to beauty that point to a creator, God. In the Greek, it's inarchae in hologos. In the beginning was the word, which Jerome had translated as in principio erat verbum. Verbum just literally means a word, where logos in Greek has so many broad intellectual contexts to it. If language is to make sense, logic is to make sense, beauty, music, there must be sense at the root of the universe. There must be logos.
Not just the spoken word, but also the unspoken word in the mind, which is the sense. In the beginning was reason, in the beginning was sense, or as the Old Testament said, in the beginning was wisdom with God. So can you imagine that communities organize themselves around shared expectations and shared rituals, and that's all sort of implicit, like the rules of a child's game are implicit. The children know them, but they're not written down. They're a shared practice. Now when the cuneiform texts came up, merchant types essentially started to track trades. And so then the idea that you could make a representation of your action would have emerged.
And then I would suspect that out of that emerged over a fairly long period of time, the idea that while we could start tracking all sorts of our actions, we could start tracking what we do on Sundays and what we do on Saturdays and what we do on Friday night and how we should govern our meals. The texts bear witness to that, originally what you see are accountants' records. And gradually you begin to get things like chronicles saying what happened in which year of the king. And then laws being written down, and eventually you get letters and literature. So literature written down is kind of the last stage in the development of what you're going to be writing.
Because in so many societies, all literature was actually oral and was memorized and was passed from one generation to the next. Yeah, well it's quite divorced from counting, right, the story. Yeah, exactly. You know, and so the idea that you can write down a story, that's quite a revolutionary notion too, or that you should. We've got examples of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls here. These are facsimiles, and they preserve the oldest known examples of texts, so the Great Isaiah Scroll, for example, preserves the text of Isaiah that is remarkably similar to the Masoretic text, which does not appear for about another thousand years.
My name is Rabbi Moshe Englinder, and I am the Torah scribe of the Museum of Bible. A scribe meaning the person who actually writes the Torah script onto a Torah scroll the way it's been done for generations, thousands of years. The Torah is basically the five books of Moses. The job of the scribe is to write it exactly the way that God had dictated Moses, and trust me, there are a lot of variations in spelling. There are 304,805 letters. I'm just a little link in that unbroken chain of scribes going back 3,334 years to the anniversary of the revelation of Mount Sinai when we received it. My name is Jeff Kloa.
I'm the chief curatorial officer here at Museum of the Bible. My role is to work with a very talented team to take care of these objects and make sure that, you know, 1,700 years from now, people can still appreciate and learn from these objects. This is one leaf or one page of a Greek Psalter, the Psalms, that was written sometime between 225 AD and 325 AD. So it's the oldest Greek Psalms in existence, the oldest copy of the Psalms in Greek. This particular page is Psalm 25. It says right at the top, it's the Psalm of David.
What I find particularly interesting about this manuscript and the fact that it's so early, of course, the Psalms, the Hebrew Bible was written in Hebrew, but it started to be translated right away. The translation of the Psalms might have been done 100 BC, 200 BC into Greek. This is the form of text that's read by the apostles. When they quote the Old Testament in the Gospels and in the Paulian epistles, they're quoting this form of the text in Greek. We have here a subduigent text. This is from the Psalms. It's probably from the mid to late third century to the early fourth century, and it's written on both sides of the page.
So this is an example of what comes to be known as a codex. It's Christianity that changes the technology from a scroll to basically a modern hardcover book. You've got a wooden cover, usually covered with leather, and then you've got sheets of papyrus that have been folded and tucked into each other and sewn into gatherings. And you've got the text written continuously, going from page to page. You can see the emergence of a kind of wealth here, too.
I mean, cultures are getting rich enough now so that they can spend time hand-making paper, which is obviously a very painstaking task, and then have specialists who know how to write and have enough wealth to allow those specialists to live to be able to do this, and highly motivated to do this because it's very effortful. And one of the most important things about this is the location where it was found, is most likely a Pecomian monastery. Now, when St. Pecomius founded his monasteries, he came up with a rule. Everybody had to be literate. And if someone came to them who was not literate, they had to learn how to read and write.
What did they read? They read the Psalms, they chanted the Psalms over and over and over again. Illiteracy was the norm. The only exception was ancient Jews, where the fisherman is a scholar, where a carpenter can debate with priests. Now, if God has given a text to a people who are illiterate, they have to read. But God actually makes it difficult for them. He says, not just read, you copy it everywhere. So they complain that we don't have pen and paper, how are we supposed to copy? You write it on your walls, on your doorposts. Know this word in your clothing, your women stitch your clothes, teach them to write.
So if you are going to be a successful, prosperous person, you have to develop your mind, think about what this means. Teach to your own children, your dining table must become a school. So family is not just a biological unit where parents have produced a child, but it is an intellectual unit, a classroom where you are being taught. You know, you think of writing these truths on our children's hearts and what that would have meant as a slow process with repetition and sacrifice, how many generations would have read and have sung this. It's really quite moving. We also don't know what that does to people's cognitive architecture.
So I have a friend, Rex Murphy, who's a great Canadian journalist, and he has poetry written on his soul. He can spout great tracts of poetry. He speaks poetically and he writes poetically, and it's partly because the repeated practice that enabled him to do the memorization has literally crafted the parts of his brain that generate language. So we don't memorize much anymore. People know songs. That's about it, I would say. Songs are the memorizing process. Probably 80% of scripture memorization today exists only because of what is sung. Right, right. And that music is an aid to memory because one of the ways to remember something is to peg it in multiple ways.
And so with music, you get the connection to the notes and the connection to the rhythm and the rhyme. And so it is a real aid to memory. The earliest origins of even the American Sunday school movement were singing schools. They began by teaching people to sing the scriptures, and that was the origin. That was true of the German Reformation as well. As Luther wrote the German hymn book, and then children went to the pastor's home. So pastor's home was the first school, and every morning it would begin with singing.
Ancient Israel is the model for the modern world where a son of a carpenter, a shepherd would go to the synagogue to study under the priest and learn to read and write. And this is what particularly the Protestant movement began to do, to turn every church into a center of education, because as the book of Proverbs says, that the true wealth is in the minds, the hearts of the people. We've got a couple of Byzantine lectionaries. What's a lectionary? A lectionary is a book that is used in a liturgy that has readings from different parts of scripture. There's musical notation in them, because when they did the readings, they weren't just reading them, they were chanting them.
All those red marks that are written above the text, those are an early form of musical notation. We think of a lectionary as something that you read from, but actually in the Greek Orthodox tradition it was something that you chanted from. At the end of the day, singing is just accent and speaking. It's just emotional speaking. If creativity is intelligence having fun, then singing is just our speaking having fun. It's being able to express it in richer and deeper ways. So I think all of us are born with that.
And regardless of the quality of our voices, we don't have to sound like Pavarotti or Taylor Swift for our singing to be sincere and legitimate to each one of us. But it is again something that's common and common to all cultures. The original that God had dictated Moses, it had no musical notes. But about a thousand years ago, they decided they wanted to record it and capture all that for accuracy. There are about six such codices. It was in a book form. It included the vowels, the punctuation, the beginning, ending verse, and also the musical notes that captured all that. Christianity is a singing religion. The Bible is a singing book.
It moves from history to poetry to prophecy to New Testament to New Testament letters to Revelation and the whole way through songs. The Christian faith as a whole is filled and replete with songs, passionate songs, beautiful songs, songs that fill our minds with the wonder and the greatness and the awesome splendor of the God of the Bible. This area here, we've got the Latin manuscripts. We've got examples of these small pocket Bibles that were used in universities and produced in Paris and other university cities. These were actually mass produced. These are the first mass produced books. Something like this took a few months.
You would have a lector reading at the front and you would have a bunch of people. I always imagined, okay, it's a university, so they're grad students and they're trying to earn their keep as students. Making these texts. Making these texts. And as the lector reads, they're writing it down. It's unbelievably beautiful and this tiny little writing. It was written by somebody who was younger with good eyes. So this is amazing. Here we have a Gutenberg Bible. The Bible printed on the press of Johann Gutenberg. This is a fourth edition printing from the early 1460s. It's a beautiful copy. It's a two volume printing. This volume is printed on parchment.
So it's a very deluxe copy as opposed to something printed on paper. And of course, this is the book that changed everything. The Gutenberg Bible is a watershed moment in history. For the first time, somebody printed a Bible using a mechanical device. Here we are in front of a model of the Gutenberg Press, which revolutionized the manufacture of books in Western Europe. It had certain advantages over earlier iterations of printing elsewhere in the world. In that the type was movable. And so when you printed, you literally set up the page a line at a time, letter by letter. It takes a long time to set up one page.
But once that page is set up, you can print hundreds of copies of it. So what Gutenberg did was he took an existing idea and increased the speed of production, which leads to the increase of books. It leads to an increase of literacy. And it helps create the modern world in which we live. Gutenberg could produce about 60 Bibles in the time it took a scribe to produce one. Every step in the process is a different skill. So the printing is one process. The binding is a separate skill. So it would go to someone else for binding. And so when you have Gutenberg Bibles, they don't have identical bindings because those would have been done separately.
And then even the decorations are custom. So yeah, while it's a step forward, it's still a very bespoke custom process. Gutenberg didn't make any money on it. He went bankrupt. And his partners, Fust and Schufer, they actually took over his business, got all his equipment, and they continued to make Bibles. And what we see here, we have a complete copy of the Fust and Schufer Bible. And again, this one, you can really see the gold leaf there. And it's been decorated. An estimate is that the cost of a Gutenberg Bible in the mid-15th century was about half a year's salary of a banker in Florence.
So the Medici bank, right, the richest bank in the world, half a year's salary to buy a Gutenberg Bible. Mostly, these were bought by benefactors for donation to monasteries or churches. Very few would have ended up in private hands. So that's why many of these copies are so well preserved, because they were purchased and essentially kind of set aside, because they really are, in a way, luxury items. So it's an important step, but it's not yet the step where everybody gets the Bible, where it sort of shapes language, where it shapes thought. That's really what you get with people like Martin Luther in 1522, William Tyndale in 1525. That's when access to the Bible really explodes.
So we've got here Luther's Pentateuch and then a New Testament. These are examples of Luther's translations. One of the themes that we talk about on this floor are the different translations and how people went about translating. I was very much struck to the core, in some sense, by how revolutionary the translation into the vernacular of the biblical writings in Europe 400 or 500 years ago truly was, and how that jump started the development of literacy, not only in Europe and the transformation of European society as a consequence, but also across the entire world. Translation is an art as much as it is a science. Everybody who's ever done a Bible translation has had to make certain choices.
Some things don't translate well from one language into another. If you think of something as simple as saying, hello, how are you? What does that mean? How do you exist? Or what are you feeling at the time? So even simple phrases can be very difficult to translate from one language to another. Word by word doesn't make sense because the meaning of a text isn't only in the words. It's in the words and the phrases and the sentences and the paragraphs, and then the relationship between the paragraphs. It's in the whole thing. And then it's in the context of the thing as well, because with the Bible there's extra biblical texts that inform it.
So then you kind of ask yourself, well, what are you doing when you decide what it means? And it looks like you're doing something like you're taking the abstract text and then you're imagining it. So you turn it into an image and then you have to represent it as an embodied reality. That's kind of what the meaning is. And then when you get the embodied reality, which is the point of the text, then you can translate it into your language. Luther quite famously said that his job was to write a translation in a manner that fit the way that the common people of Saxony spoke.
And so that's what he did with his translation and instantly became a classic in German. It has profound effect on the German language. The difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is that in the Old Testament, in order to be a priest, you had to be a Levite. So in 1520s Martin Luther writes a letter to the Christian nobility of Germany that says, every child of God should now be priest, serving their father. You cannot be a priest if you don't know God and you can't know God if you don't study his word. And that's why the Protestant movement in Europe becomes the force that brings literacy to everyone.
The Chinese invented the printing press, but it didn't produce this widespread explosion of literacy. Printing technology in China and in Korea, they didn't reform Asia because those books didn't inspire the confidence that words can lead you to truth, that ultimate reality was word, logos. And thought. And thought. And dialogue and communication. The Buddhists had printed 130,000 pages of Tripitaka, which was their scriptures, and there were so many books that in these small temples, you will have to have rotating bookcases. But actually nobody was reading the books because Buddha taught ultimate reality as silence, not logos, not word. So what these priests were doing were rotating the bookcases and meditating on the sound of rotation.
The sound of these sacred books rotating would empty their mind, bring silence, get rid of thought. They looked upon it as mantra. Mantra is sound without sense. Right. And that was an attempt to silence the semantic brain. Yes. And I mean, there's some psychological utility in that, but to sacrifice the semantic completely to the non-semantic seems like a terrible loss. And so you had the combination of the Gutenberg press with a missionary zeal to distribute the Bible to everyone, regardless of their social status, that turned the printing press into something that was truly socially revolutionary. This is the most significant translation of the Bible into English ever.
This is the first edition, 1611, of what's today called the King James Bible. This is the translation that essentially was the only English translation for about 400 years, close to 400 years. And so much of our language, our thought patterns, imagery that we still use in English today is because of this translation. It was a very important translation because in the period before 1611 in England, of course, there's a lot of religious debate, a lot of tension. King Henry decreed the English church separate from the Catholic church, which meant that for the first time there was permitted to be an English Bible rather than a Latin use of the Bible. Catholics regained power with Queen Mary.
Again, no English translations, there was dissent. So you had Protestants, you had Catholics arguing. Of course, you had the 1604 gunpowder plot when they tried to blow up Parliament. And that year, King James said, look, we're done with this. We're going to have one Bible for all people, Catholic, Protestant. So he gathered a large team of the best scholars in England, in Hebrew, in Greek, in history, and over the next seven years produced this remarkable translation, which we're still familiar with today. The title page is actually very important because it sends a message. Previous copies of the English Bible would actually have a picture of the monarch on it.
You'd have a Bible printed under Queen Elizabeth and it would have literally Queen Elizabeth's portrait on the cover. But that's how they did things because the church and the monarchy were connected. But King James said, no, the Bible is above the King. The Bible is above all people. And it's not for Protestants or Catholics. It's for all people. So the title is simply the Holy Bible. And the artwork has no references to the monarchy, no references to England. So the focus is on the Word of God itself. And that was a very intentional message from the King. It wasn't him giving the book. This was God speaking to all his people.
And he wanted it to be used by all people, regardless of their background. So it took a little time for this to gain a foothold. But eventually it did become the translation used by everyone. Now the book is available to everyone. So everyone should study, cultivate his mind. And that emerged part out of that Jewish tradition of intense… The Reformation is turning back to the Israeli idea that slaves should study. Right. Then that was the most reliable way out of slavery. Yes. That's the true wealth of a nation. One thing that's quite striking about modern rational culture is this insistence that the religious tradition of the West and the scientific tradition are somehow at fundamental odds.
And the more…I mean I used to believe that I think when I was young, at least to some degree. Although now I'm very curious about where that idea came from. Because it's absolutely clear, first of all, that the universities themselves emerged out of the monasteries. That's just completely unquestionable. Oxford and Cambridge are monasteries for all intents and purposes. And so the whole university idea emerged out of the church. And then the notion that the universe is in fact intelligible and that the pursuit of truth would be redemptive. That's a fundamentally religious idea. And then the scientific endeavor itself, given figures like Newton, for example, was embedded inside that religious tradition.
We tend to think of, in the modern world, of somehow that science and religion are opposing forces in the world. But historically that has not been the case. Historically the scientists all have some sort of connection with religion. Psalm 111 verse 2. That's the verse which is written at the entrance of the world's first scientific laboratory in Cambridge, Cavendish Laboratory. It says, majestic are the works of the Lord. Those who delight in them study them. Now this idea had already been developing in Middle Ages, which was systematized by Francis Bacon, the father of modern science.
And he says that it's the book of God's words, which is the Bible, and the book of God's works, everything that God has done in nature. So majestic are the works of the Lord. That we should be reading the works of God. This is when modern science takes off. Galileo Galilei is perhaps most famous of the Renaissance scientists. He was very knowledgeable of the scriptures. And as a scientist he was just trying to find out what it is that God wrote in the heavens. So he began to look at the nature of the universe using the telescope to see that Saturn has rings for example.
In the 17th century he published a series of works, one that got him into trouble a bit was his dialogue because he kind of made fun of the Aristotelians. The Aristotelians who believed everything could be proven simply by logic were not dealing with empirical science the way he was. Aristotle followed logic, that human logic can know truth. These people are observing. So Galileo for example climbs up the leaning tower of Pisa, drops two cannonballs. One heavy, one light. Aristotle has said that the heavier ball will fall faster. Galileo finds both are falling at the same time. So this new method that you go out and observe then your logic should make sense of what's happening.
And out of this observational model you develop experimental science. We cannot confine God to our logic. We have to go out and observe what God has done in his freedom. This was the essence of shifting from the old instrument which is that we can discover scientific truth through logic to the modern science of Galileo and Newton. Sir Isaac Newton is kind of the great rock star of 17th century science. And so many of the 17th century English scientists that he came from a background associated with the church and had a certain amount of theological studies but he also studied the world around him.
And I think more than any scientist in the 17th century, Newton popularized the scientific method and people picked it up and became amateur scientists themselves. Many of whom in the 18th century also came from a similar church background. Newton for every one word he wrote on science he wrote three or four words on the Bible. So he was studying. With forays into alchemy as well. He's a very strange guy. But when he's there in Cambridge there is no department of science in Cambridge. He is there to study the Bible and to worship. George Washington Carver, he's a very inspirational person. A man of humble origins who taught Sunday school for 30 years or so.
He studied the peanut of course and came up with a crop that as a legume could actually help repair soils in the south that had been damaged by centuries of cotton production and could produce a useful food crop that could help people out of poverty. He was very determined in his work and when he had a setback he turned to his faith. Why didn't modern science develop in China? Why didn't it develop in India? Why did it develop in Europe? And why did these men come after 16 particularly 17th century? Why not in the 15th century? This printing of this book changes everything because it begins an intellectual revolution that now if this is God's word this has to reform our minds.
We don't know even now to what degree all of those scientific presuppositions are predicated on the underlying Judeo-Christian concept. Because you have to believe the world has an intelligible order, you have to believe in a transcendent object if you're a scientist or there's nothing to correct your theories. They also believe that investigation conducted in the spirit of truth is redemptive because every scientist worth his or her salt is operating under the presupposition that the honest quest for truth and enlightenment is in fact a good. And that's a statement, that's an axiom of faith. That all the good scientists that I've known are possessed by a spirit of truth.
They will allow the world to correct their erroneous presuppositions and they do presume that in that quest is to be found let's say the betterment of the individual and human society. And those are all religious presuppositions as far as I'm concerned. God is a creator. You're his image, you become a creative creature. The wealth that you create is yours and this right to property then becomes the basis for the economic miracles that we've seen in the last few centuries. This is the impact of the Bible upon our world. The Bible has shaped literature, film, even governments in ways that you probably don't recognize as coming from the Bible.
The Bible gives us our basis for truth and is largely influential in terms of moral law for everything from Shakespeare to modern education and medicine and science to civilization itself. It is the most influential book in all of history and hopefully when people come to the museum they can walk away with at least a sense of that. There's an emerging consensus among scientists and philosophers of perception that we have to view the world through something approximating a story.
The question is what is that story? What should it be? And the answer is very complex because it's very difficult to understand how we might take the entire multiplicity of human experience, tragedy and atrocity and suffering included and to hammer that into some form of transcendent psychological and social unity.
But it's definitely the case that the assembling of the biblical corpus of stories across a vast span of historical time is at least a collective attempt to do exactly that, although that may not be all it is because to the degree that the Bible is reflective of our psyche and to the degree that our psyche is an evolved apparatus that suits the structure of the cosmos, the stories that reflect the manner in which we apprehend reality properly are also in all probability deeply reflective of the structure of experience and existence itself. I hope that the journey through the book that defines the manner in which we perceive truth itself proved useful and informative to you. Thank you all for watching.
Once again I want to remind you that the first nine episodes of the Exodus Seminar are available now on DailyWire Plus with new episodes coming online every week. Maybe you'll consider signing up at the DailyWire Plus site so that you can benefit from the fruits of our collective labor. Click the link in the description to sign up. Thank you. .