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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Scroll (Roll)

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[βιβλίον, מֵפָר]

So long as writing material was manufactured from the papyrus plant, the usual form of a book was that of the volumen or roll, wound round a stick or sticks. The modern form of book, called in Latin codex, did not come into use till the 3rd cent. of our era, when parchment (περγαμηνή, from Pergamos, where it originated) began to supersede papyrus. According to Pliny (Historia Naturalis (Pliny) xiii. 11 f.), the standard roll (scapus) consisted of 20 sheets (shedae or plagulae) joined together with paste. Rolls, however, were often much longer; the longest Egyptian one known measures 144 ft. To this day the Scriptures are always read in the synagogue from rolls, never from a codex. One of the most impressive eschatological metaphors was suggested by the idea of the once familiar βιβλίον-‘and the heaven was removed as a scroll when it is rolled up’ (ὡς βιβλίον ἑλισσόμενον, Revelation 6:14 || Isaiah 34:4, ‘et cCElium recessit sicut liber involutus’ [Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] ]); ‘a unique simile, reminding us of the later Stoic conception of the sky as a βίβλος θεοῦ, of which heavenly bodies are the στοιχεῖα or characters’ (T. K. Cheyne, The Prophecies of Isaiah4, 1886, i. 195).

Literature.-A. W. Pollard, article ‘Book’ in Encyclopaedia Britannica 11; articles ‘Writing’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) (F. G. Kenyon) and Encyclopaedia Biblica (A. A. Bevan).

James Strahan.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Scroll (Roll)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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