Where is the Oldest Bible?


Does any one have any information on how the Bible was preserved?


since the Bible is the collection of books from the Old and the New Testament, I would assume you mean either a hand-written copy (probably in an old monestary somewhere) or a printed copy - probably in a museum in Europe.



As far back as you can go. Where is the oldest collection of one of the books?


The most ancient complete codexes are the Codex Sinaiticus in the British Museum and the Codex Vaticanus in (you guessed it) the Vatican. The Codex Bezae, a facing-page Greek & Latin edition of the Gospels, is at Cambridge University in England. The on-line Catholic Encyclopedia has articles on all of them where you can learn about their origin and provenance. Codex Sinaiticus dates from the 4th Century.

Manuscripts of individual books of Scripture, portions of books, and thousands of fragments abound. A fragment from the Gospel of John was discovered within the last decade that cannot have been produced later than 90 A.D. I understand that a portion of one of Paul’s epistles to the Corinthianc has recently been recoverd that could possibly date from as early as the mid-first century.

There are early manuscripts in many of the languages of the ancient world, and they are remarkably parallel in content. It is one of the great affirmations of the authority of the New Testament that there is such a wealth of parallel manuscripts dating from a period so close to the events they describe.

The manuscripts are well catalogued and can be located without much trouble – my University houses a significant scroll from the 2nd century. Most Greek New Testaments have a full apparatus identifying at each significant point of all the manuscripts and families of manuscripts with any variations.

One of the problems with old manuscripts is that when Scriptures became worn, they were burnt. The ancient world did not have either our modern passion for preservation at all costs nor the technology with which to do it.

When the Qumran scrolls were studied, although they were, physically, far earlier than any previously known manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures, they showed remarkably little variation.


Why did they burn them? What happened to the burned Scriptures? Were they re written? Were they memorized?


I am not sure I understand your questions.

When a scroll became too worn to use, it was burned in respect to its holiness. Burning kept the scrolls from accidental disrespect. They did not just toss it into the trash.

What happened to the burned scriptures? They went up in smoke. This would be one scroll at a time, only as it became too worn to use. There was never a time when all the scrolls were burned and they started over.

Were they memorized? You bet. It is said that even today, a Jewish Scholar can take his copy of the Torah, and if he were to stick a pin through it, could tell you which letter it would pierce on every single page (of course, they wouldn’t actually stick a pin through it).

The books of Scripture are continually being re-copied. We would not use the termyou have used – “re-written” – because in English that would imply changing the text. This would have been considered a gross sin. In the Jewish world, only trained Scribes were allowed to copy the sacred Books. Every single word had to be checked. If a Scribe encountered something that he KNEW was a textual error in copying, he was to COPY IT ANYWAY, JUST AS HE FOUND IT, then take it to a judge for a decision.

These people were the original obsessive-compulsive fanatics when it came to the Holy Books (and they still are). And aren’t we GLAD about that! Their care is responsible for the fact that whenever ancient manuscripts are recovered, they match the ones we already have. Even today, a Jewish Torah scroll is hand-written with the same meticulous care that was applied in ancient times. It’s really inspiring.


Oh. I believe a Torah scroll may be buried when it is too worn to use.


The oldest quran dates long after Muhammed. Uthman burned all the variant copies. Some of them contained surahs that are now lost. Even Aisha complained. We don’t know how many surahs were lost when those who memorized them died or that simply didn’t get transcribed. Some written on palm leaves for instance could well have just disintegrated. About the earliest quranic verses are found on the dome of the rock and do not quite jibe with what the current quran says. Essentially we have no reason to believe the quran reflects what Muhammed himself said. The hadith are even less reliable.

Compared to the quran the Bible is far more attested to and reliable. Many more manuscripts and fragments exist.


Did they re write the words of the Torah before they burry it? Please give me an excelent link to read on my spare time please.


This is not true. More than half your post is incorrect according to well known recorded documents in history. The oldest Qur’an dates back to 1st hijrah. Muhammad(saw) was well alive then. All Sahabas had a copy of the Qur’an. Umar(ra) and not Uthman by the influence of Abu Bakr(ra) gave Zaid(ra) the permission to go around and collect everyone’s Qur’an. No surah was not lost. most Sahabas didn’t even need their copy, they rememorized it like the Prophet, peace be upon him did. How could have Aisha complained when Umar(ra) collected all other Qur’ans and burned them and only kept Aisha’s copy?

Come on now. If you are going to give information give it correctly, wisely and intellegently or do not give it at all.



Here my uncle Munawar has it all for you.



Everything I know about Jews and the Torah indicates that nobody EVER, EVER, EVER changes ANYTHING. Jews do not even touch the sacred pages of a scroll when they read it in the Synagogue: they use a special pointer.

Any variation that might creep into a text is generally small and easily identified. The Scriptures are the most sacred thing Jews have. It is protected and cherished: “make them known to your children and your children’s children.” Many people memorize the entire Torah.

The Masoretes, who are responsible for the most complete Hebrew Bible, would not change even an obvious error, but enter a note in the margin. Jews don’t mess with the Word of God (to put it in crude modern terms.)

More broadly, where variations in the text appear, they are not the SAME variation. So if you have 10 ancient manuscripts, and each of them has one variation, it will not be the SAME variation. So from the remaining 9 manuscripts, it is possible to determine the original text.

One great affirmation of the authenticity of the Bible we have today is the fact that when ancient scrolls are discovered, they match what we already have. This is true across wide tracts of geography and time.

Here is a link to the article on the Old Testament manuscriptsCatholic Encyclopedia. Lest you have reservations about accepting information from a Catholic source, be assured that the references can all be checked and that the catalogs of manuscripts are all well known. This is an area of utmost importance, and scholars require the most extreme scrupulosity in documenting everything accurately. The Catholic Encyclopedia is old – published in 1913 – and much has been recovered and learned since then, so I advise you to look around for more current information.

The Qumran scrolls, discovered in 1947, were about 1000 years older than the earliest Jewish manuscripts known at the time, and they match!

Please read that article in the Encyclopedia. It is full of important information.


Where is the proof of your statement that No body EVER EVER EVER changes things? Also the Torah that the Jews have and the many translations of what Christians have are not identical. Also, if it wasn’t presevered, there is no need to change something that is not in exisitance. This is way I created this thread, because I was wondering how people could identify who ceratin books of the Psalm was authored by, but yet others are un known. So I decided to find out it’s origins and how it ws preserved, and the facts are disturbing.

The Jews like Muslims read their books in its original languages so the meaning is accepted better than what is translated.


The article I directed you to speaks of the precision with which the Masoretes indicated variant readings without changing anything. The “proof” that Jews don’t change things lies in the fact that when ancient manuscripts are recovered, they MATCH the existing manuscripts. If they did not, you would know something had been changed.

Translations have nothing to do with this question of palaeography. Translations can, do and should vary as the particulars of contemporary language change.

You responded to my post in such a short time that I KNOW you did not look at the link I gave you.

It is my understanding that Islam teaches that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures have been corrupted. I have attempted to point you towards sources that meet any test of credibility to demonstrate that the ancient documents present a credible fund of evidence testifying to the authenticity of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Moreover, the Qumran scrolls, which lay untouched by human hands for 2000 years, have been scientifically dated by multiple, impartial sources to nearly 1000 years prior to the earliest Jewish manuscripts known prior to that time. And they match.


I’m not talking about change sister. I’m talking about perseration. How was it preserved? If it wasn’t preserved then there was nothing to change or not change. You see what I’m saying?

I didn’t read the whole link.Does it talk about preserving the Torah? How was it preserved? This is what I am concerned with right now.

There is no where in ahadith or Qur’an that I have read that Scriptures are corrupted. I believe due to lack of preservation, and bad translation, message has been lost. That’s my personal view.

Also what happened when the Bible was banned accross the globe. What happened in those eras. This is what I am concerned with. What about the deleted books etc? Why was these books deleted (Apocolypse) etc. This is my concern. This is what I’m asking for information on. :slight_smile:


sufi, what I said was accurate. See www.answering-islam.org. We simply cannot know if any surah matches anything Muhammed said. It was decades before any single quran existed. The variants may well have contained surahs that are now lost forever. In Yemen they found a cache of pages from early qurans. They don’t match exactly the current version. Muslim scholars will someday have to confront this issue headon.


Great. So the Muslims understand that the Scriptures are not corrupted. Glad to hear it.

The preservation of a single copy is not the test of “preservation.” My point is that, unlike the Egyptians, who carefully buried papyrus scrolls in nice dry tombs and sealed 'em up for 4000 years, the the Jews used their Torahs every day; they wore out and were buried or burned. When there is consonance among families of manuscripts, even from a later period, which originate in Africa, Asia, and the Levant, then the case for authenticity is strengthened.

St. Jerome, in the 4th Century, translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Latin for the Christian Bible. To my knowledge, we do not have any Hebrew manuscripts from the age of Jerome, but the Latin Bible parallels the Hebrew text we know today. Does the fact that no ancient manuscripts have been preserved indicate that they did not exist? That rather begs the question.


Corrupted Scripture or lost message? A difference I suppose, but not a meaningful one as they both assertions would add up to unreliable scripture.
While it is certainly profitable to discuss the reliability of Scriputres, it has to be remembered that Scripture is a remote rule of faith, the Church is the proximate rule of faith. This means that non-Catholic Christians and Muslims share something in common that the Catholic Church does not: complete reliance on a text. And a discussion that does not wrestle with that will not go far.


I appreciate your eagerness. But sometimes you just have to wade through the material.

Also what happened when the Bible was banned accross the globe.

The Bible was never “banned across the globe.” If you are referring to times when copies were scarce, they were still available – and CAREFULLY treasured. It is estimated that a pulpit Bible would have cost the modern equivalent of $500,000 in the middle ages. People took care of those books.

What about the deleted books etc? Why was these books deleted (Apocolypse) etc. This is my concern. This is what I’m asking for information on. :slight_smile:

Again, the Christian canon was established in full by the late 4th Century. Even if a book like the Apocalypse didn’t make it into one collection of the books, it still existed.

Take a look at the textual appartus, complete with manuscript provenance, that accompanies a scholarly edition of the Bible. It will give you a better idea of how carefully these things are documented.


That siste is not a reliable source for anything Islamic. Please check out the link in post number 11. I wouldn’t go to an anti Catholic site for my answers about Catholics. It wouldn’t be wise.

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