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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Ink

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(דְּיוֹ, deyo', so called from its blackness, Jeremiah 36:18; Gr. μέλαν, black, 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13). The most simple, and hence probably the most ancient mode of preparing ink was a mixture of water with charcoal powdered, or with soot, to which gum was added. The Hebrews made use of different colors for writing, as did also the ancient Egyptians, and some of the books of the former are stated by Josephus to have been written in gold. The mode of writing mentioned in Numbers 5, 23, where it is said that "the priest shall write the curses in a book and blot them out with the bitter water," was with a kind of ink prepared for the purpose, without any calx of iron or other material that could make a permanent dye; these maledictions were then washed off the parchment into the water, which the woman was obliged to drink: so that she drank the very words of the execration. The ink still used in the East is almost all of this kind; a wet sponge will completely obliterate the finest of their writings. The ancients used several kinds of tinctures as ink; among them that extracted from the cuttle-fish, called in Hebrew תְּכֵֵֶלת, tekeleth.

Their ink was not so fluid as ours. Demosthenes reproaches AEschines with laboring in the grinding of ink, as painters do in the grinding of their colors. The substance found in an inkstand at Herculaneum looks like a thick oil or paint, with which the manuscripts had been written in a sort of relievo, visible in the letters when a leaf is held to the light in a horizontal direction. Such vitriolic ink as has been used on the old parchment manuscripts would have corroded the delicate leaves of the papyrus, as it has done the skins of the most ancient manuscripts of Virgil and Terence in the library of the Vatican;' the letters are sunk into the parchment, and some have eaten quite through it, in consequence of the corrosive acid of the vitriolic ink with which they were written. (See WRITING).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ink'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/i/ink.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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