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Ancient-papyrus

Credit: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority

The Psalmist declared the necessity to store the Word of God in a safe place: the mind. This was necessary because even stone tablets can break and be scattered. The early use of papyrus (ancient paper) made the more permanent clay tablets obsolete for everyday use[1].

For this reason, memorization has always been preferred among the gurus and rabbis around the world. Disciples preserved the words of their masters "religiously." But in the Jewish and Christian traditions, the pen and paper have always been used to preserve the message to the generations to follow[2].

God's people have faithfully copied words on to paper to assure that their history with Him might not be lost. This is probably the reason that the Law required the King to write out his own copy of the Torah for his own study[3].

That we have copies of documents first written on perishable paper thousands of years ago is a testimony to the dedication God's people have had to what He has said and done. But it is no mystery that the original documents have not survived. Nevertheless, when a surviving slip of papyrus surfaces that comes from the time of some of those writings, it is news. And when it confirms a fact found in later copies of Scripture, it is even more exciting.

This fragment was a packing slip for a delivery from a woman to the king at Jerusalem, confirming the existence of a royal presence there. It reminds one of the industrious woman of Proverbs 31 who traded in goods as part of her family duties [4]. Such a find is rare because of the fragile nature of papyrus. As attractive as it might be to dream of finding something from the pen of an Apostle, the nature of the medium makes this .practically impossible.

Let us praise God that His people have gotten the Word out as they wrote, taught and preached to others over the millennia.

  1. Psa. 119:11 (Link)
  2. Exo. 17:14; Isa. 30:8 (Link)
  3. Deu. 17:18 (Link)
  4. Prov. 31:24 (Link)

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