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Biblical Pottery

Biblical Pottery

by Debra Conley

Did You Know?

By Debra Conley

 

             Pottery is referenced in several Biblical passages, usually referring to the body as a vessel like a clay pot. Much of the determination of time periods is done with archaeological finds of pottery. Of course, all the “dating” is done by man, the time periods assigned made up by man, and the craft improvements help men see the possibility of  future developments, but most is educated guess work. What seems to be more fascinating to me is the actual vessel itself. According to The Archaeological Study Bible, information found in modern digs shows that pottery was big business simply because for many centuries, it was the primary means for storing almost anything-from foods to manuscripts, as we know from the Qumran discoveries. It became the decoration of choice; pottery was formed in many soft and flowing patterns as much as it was in sturdy functional shapes. Then came the colors! Apparently, black was the first color added to the clay pottery, then came red and white. Somewhere after 500 B.C., excavators found pots with name inscriptions defining the pride of the potter. Some have been found with words similar to, “belongs to the king” since those were special pots made by the king’s royal guild potters and colored with his own coat of dynastic colors.

If you look at various pictures of these ancient pots, see how definite and even the added colors are. A number of sources were used to create the colors. Biblical areas were noted for red ocre and oxides ground to fine powders and applied to the pots with water. Beautiful purples and blues were often made from one of several species of sea snails that are found in the eastern Mediterranean. These are the the spiny dye murex, originally known as murex shells. In Acts 16, Paul gets his first convert in Europe, Lydia, the famed seller of purple dye. The talent of pottery, of colors, and artistry is often in the Bible.

Note how many shapes and sizes of pots have been found. If a pot is highly curved, how did those potters get the color lines so even? I wonder. This was a great skill for one with an artistic eye and steady hand. If you have ever tried to form a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel, you will realize what skill is involved in making the perfect pot. The skilled potter knows what the end result is to be; he sees it in his mind’s eye and that is the same as the Biblical reference to us as products of the Lord’s exacting craft. He knows what the end result will be and His potter’s wheel is constantly turning, improving each vessel.

 

 

The British Library

The British Library

by Debra Conley

Did You Know?

By Debra Conley

            

             Many visits to the British Library in London left me with countless images to remember, particularly the vast collection of ancient Biblical texts, including one of the most beautiful I have ever seen:

The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated manuscript consisting of 258 leaves of calfskin vellum, created in the late seventh to the early eighth century.

This legacy of an artist monk living in Northumbria (northeast coast of England near border of Scotland) in the early eighth century is a precious testament to the tenacity of Christian belief during one of the most turbulent periods of British history. Costly in time and materials, superb in design, the manuscript is among our greatest artistic and religious treasures. It was made and used at Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island, a major religious community that housed the shrine of St Cuthbert, who died in 687.

Medieval manuscripts were usually produced by a team of scribes and illustrators. However, the entire Lindisfarne Gospels is the work of one man, giving it a particularly coherent sense of design. According to a note added at the end of the manuscript less than a century after its making, that artist was a monk called Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne between 698 and 721.

Apart from its original binding which is believed to have been lost in a Viking raid, the Lindisfarne Gospels survived intact throughout the centuries.

The Viking raid on Lindisfarne in 793 is the earliest known written account of a Viking raid. In traditional history writing this event marks the beginning of the Viking Age in the British Isles. Monks managed to save the book and took it with them when they fled from Lindisfarne in 875 after suffering Viking raids

There is a book seller online at ABEBooks.com which offers some great illustrated Bibles. Below are some of their descriptions of illustrated Bibles:

Gustave Doré was one of the most acclaimed and popular illustrators of the nineteenth century, and his illustrated Bible is a landmark in the field. He made more than 200 engravings, illustrating the events of the Bible with detail and emotion. The first edition appeared in France in 1866, but his work was reprinted throughout Europe in the ensuing decades. The earliest editions tend to be the most expensive, but many collectors are happy with any nicely bound edition.

John Baskerville’s Bible marks a high point of eighteenth-century printing and typography. He printed four illustrated editions of the Bible between 1760 and 1772. The 1763 printing is considered one of the most beautiful ever made.

Benjamin Franklin called Massachusetts printer Isaiah Thomas “the American Baskerville.” Thomas printed two Bibles in 1791, a spectacular illustrated folio edition (about 15 inches tall) and a smaller “quarto” edition (about 12 inches tall). Both can be expensive, but his 1802 Bible is an affordable connection to the earliest days of American Bibles.

Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible is probably the most valuable printed book, with single leaves selling for $60,000 and up. First printed in 1456 , the Gutenberg Bible was the first book produced with moveable type. A copy sold in 1987 for $4.9 million at Christie’s New York.

Even in the earliest Gutenberg originals, a spacious margin was allowed so that illuminated decoration could still be added by hand which was done by dedicated monks or scribes.

 

 

Noah Webster

Noah Webster

by Debra Conley

Did You Know?

By Debra Conley

 

One of the first complete dictionaries published in America was Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. At the time, the Bible was the standard textbook in most schools and homes and Webster, a Bible student himself, included many interesting quotes from Scripture  within his definitions. Consider the word Study. Along with the full etymology of its origins, Webster includes quotes from the classic authors such as Bacon and Milton,  but as is his practice, includes the Bible’s statement of such a word, using I Thessalonians 4:11 and  II Timothy 2:15.

An interesting tidbit is that Noah Webster made himself a millionaire on the sale of his Blue Back spelling book.  This was in part the impetus for his push for new copyright laws which were enacted in 1831. When he died in 1843, he had not yet finished a second revision of the dictionary and some reports say that his family sold the rights to help pay for his debts, even though there was controversy over whether Webster had a copyright on it. The purchasing family of George and Charles Merriam agreed to keep the Webster name on future publications. To this date, the company still publishes as Merriam-Webster.

Consider these quotes:

 

“The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truth by which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions.”

 

“Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields. God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”

 

“Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.”

 

 

 

Gutenberg Bibles

Gutenberg Bibles

by Debra Conley

Did You Know?

By Debra Conley

            

             The American Bible Society originated in 1816. Its first president was Elias Boudinot, a former President of the Continental Congress. Its second president was our first Chief Justice, John Jay. The Society provided pocket Bibles to the soldiers (on both sides) of the Civil War. The Society is still very active and still provides Bibles to all branches of the military.

During WWI, Bibles were given to all soldiers with inscriptions written by General John J. Pershing and President Theodore Roosevelt. WWII Bibles were inscribed by FDR. President Ronald Reagan declared 1983 the year of the Bible, though Bibles were no longer issued to soldiers but were offered to them. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed Congressional Joint Resolution 164 declaring 1990 the International Year of Bible Reading.

In 1643, during England’s Civil War, Oliver Cromwell gave out The Soldier’s Pocket Bible. During a period of moral decline in 2011, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center created a change in policy, written by Chief of Staff C.W. Callahan: “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit,” the policy stated. Iowa Republican Steve King demanded that the Obama administration rescind such policy and it did.

The Gideons, founded in 1899, quickly began placing free Bibles in hotels the following year. They currently distribute in over 200 countries. Recently, the Freedom From Religion wrote to 15 hotel chains requesting them to refuse these Bibles. At least two major chains, Marriott and Wyndham Hotel Group, have obliged. Hotels operated by Arizona State University  and Northern Illinois University have reportedly banned Bibles from their facilities.

Johann Gutenberg is most famous for producing the 1286 page Bible named after him. His other fame came from the invention of moveable type.

Between 1450 and 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was completed. Early documentation states that a total of 200 copies were scheduled to be printed on rag cotton linen paper, and 30 copies on vellum animal skin. It is not known exactly how many copies were actually printed.

As of 2009, 49 Gutenberg Bibles are known to exist, but of these only 21 are complete The last Gutenberg Bible, a complete one, brought $2.2 million in 1978 at New York’s Christie’s Auction.
There are eleven copies of the Gutenberg Bible in the United States.  One, in the possession of the Library of Congress, is complete and printed on vellum, according to the LOC site. Of the thirty-five vellum copies, only three exist as complete copies. The Library’s copy is one of those three. The others are at the Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris) and the British Library (London).

Some Terms: Vellum is a type of treated calf skin. A Codex Bible is one bound at only one edge. An Illuminated Bible or manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations. Some illustrated Bibles are only colorful pictures which tell the Bible story and were made for individuals who lacked the skill to read the manuscript. From the Latin words manus (hand) and scriptus, from scribere (to write).

 

Do you want to read the Bible through this year? Look for schedules on Aletheia’s web pages that will help you keep that goal.