27 November 2013

History of the Name “the Bible”


“Today we call the sacred writings as the Bible. I wonder why the holy book is called the Bible? How it came to be called as such?”

The lord jesus Christ called it “Scriptures” (cf. Luke 24:32). The Apostles also called it “Scripture” (cf. Romans 15:4) and “Holy Scriptures” (cf. I Timothy 3:15). Our word “Bible” was actually derived from the Greek word biblion:

“It is from biblion, in fact, that our word ‘Bible’ is derived.” (Bruce, p. 3.)

The plural of biblion is ta biblia. The first used of the word biblia denoting the sacred books was when the Scriptures were translated into Greek. Daniel 9:2 of the Greek translation of the Scriptures called the sacred books tais biblois.

τω πρωτω ετει της βασιλειας αυτου εγω δανιηλ διενοηθην εν ταις βιβλοις τον αριθμον των ετων οτε εγενετο προσταγμα τη γη επι ιερεμιαν τον προφητην εγειραι εις αναπληρωσιν ονειδισμου ιερουσαλημ εβδομηκοντα ετη

Apostle Paul also used the word ta biblia in II Timothy 4:13:

“Tón failóneen hón apélipon en Trooádi pará Kárpoo erchómenos fére kaí tá biblía málista tás membránas.” (Nestle-Aland 27th Edition)

In the second century A.D., the Greek Christians called their scriptures ta biblia and from then on this Greek word was widely used to designate the whole Scriptures:

“The name is derived from the Greek expression biblia (the books), which came into use in the early centuries of Christianity to designate the whole sacred volume.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Bible”)

In the 13th century A.D., the term “biblia” gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun:

“In the Latin of the Middle Ages the neuter plural for Biblia (gen. bibliorum) gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae, in which singular form the word has passed into the languages of the Western world. It means ‘The Book’, by way of eminence, and therefore well sets forth the sacred character of our inspired literature.” (Ibid.)

The singular form of the word has passed into the languages of the Western world, thus, came the English word “Bible” (singular, noun).



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  1. Bruce, F.F. The Books and the Parchment. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1984.
  2. Catholic encyclopedia, s.v. “Bible” www.newadvent.org/cathen/025431.htm

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