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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Writing is either ideographic or phonetic. In ideographic writing the signs used represent the ideas themselves, either pictorially by direct imitation of the object, or symbolically, as when the picture of an eye is used to convey the idea of sight or knowledge, and the picture of a lion the idea of courage. In phonetic writing the signs simply represent the sounds of which a word is composed. Ideographic writing—that is, writing by pictures or in hieroglyphics—is an art of very ancient date. Through all the Mosaic history books and writing are mentioned as in familiar use. Exodus 17:14; 2 Samuel 11:14; 1 Kings 21:8; 1 Kings 9:11; 2 Kings 10:1-2; 2 Kings 10:6-7. The alphabet which the Jews used was based upon the Phœnician, and that upon some earlier alphabet, and underwent various changes. The materials used in writing were tablets of stone, Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:15-16; Exodus 32:19; Exodus 34:1; Exodus 34:4; Exodus 34:28-29, or boxwood and brass, or plaster, Deuteronomy 27:2-3; Joshua 8:32, or skin, which was made into the finest parchment or vellum. For hard materials an iron stylus or engraver's tool was used. Job 19:24; Psalms 45:1; Isaiah 8:1; Jeremiah 8:8; Jeremiah 17:1, but for parchment a reed pen and ink. 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13. The parchment was not put in leaves, forming a book, but put together in long rolls. The practice of employing an amanuensis was quite common in ancient days as it Is now. Hence Paul gives as an authentication of his letters a few words written with his own hand. 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17. This fact also explains Romans 16:22. The size of the apostle's writing is indicated. Galatians 6:11. The ink of the ancients was made of pulverized charcoal or the black of burnt ivory and water, with the addition of some kind of gum. The ink of the East at the present day is a much thicker substance than ours, but is not permanent; a wet sponge will obliterate the finest of their writing. The inkhorn was, and is, a long tube containing the reed pens, with a little case fastened at the side to hold the ink. The whole is thrust into the girdle.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Writing'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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