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The Bible in Shorthand – Chuck_Missler

The Bible in Shorthand – Chuck_Missler

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Published by Hubert Luns
Shorthand writing was common in Roman times and was used to notice ad verbatum what Jesus said. Those are the notes, consulted in order to write the Biblical record, known to us as the "Four Gospels".
Shorthand writing was common in Roman times and was used to notice ad verbatum what Jesus said. Those are the notes, consulted in order to write the Biblical record, known to us as the "Four Gospels".

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Hubert Luns on Jun 23, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/12/2014

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The Hyperetai:
The Bible inShorthand?
by Chuck Missler 
W
e take for granted the ease with whichwe can make copies of documents today.Even before the revolution of our copiersand fax machines, it was the invention of Johannes Gutenberg's movable type in1454 that ushered in the printingtechniques that we also have come to takefor granted today. In the ancient world, allcopies had to be accomplishedpainstakingly
by hand 
. Thus, the termmanuscript, "manu-script."It was quite natural that these manualmethods would also be accompanied byspecial shortcuts, aids, and techniques tofacilitate the drudgery with which thescribes were faced.And, like all the Greeks and Romans of theperiod, the Christian authors and theirscribes employed trained secretaries oramanuenses, trusted helpers who werewell-versed in contemporary literarytechniques and scribal methods. Some of them are mentioned by name in the NewTestament, and Luke refers to themgenerally at the beginning of his Gospel.
1
Notable is the importance he attributes tothe eyewitnesses behind the writtenrecords, including those preceding his own.
The Hyperetai 
The "ministers of the Word," were the
hyperetai 
, the helpers. In New Testamenttimes, this word was often used to denoteattendants or servants in the synagogues,or attendants of kings and magistrates. Inthis case, it clearly refers to those whohelped spread the good news about Jesusin writing.The word occurs again in the sequel toLuke's Gospel, Acts 13:5. R. O. Taylor wasthe first to notice that John Mark, 
 
 traditionally identified as the author (orPeter's amanuensis) of the oldest Gospel, isreferred to as a
uphrethV
 
hyperetes
 (literally, "under-rower" or subordinaterower) as a member of the missionaryteam organized by Paul and Barnabas inabout 46 A.D. He may be so designated not just to indicate that he was merely anassistant to either of these men, butapparently to declare a title or qualification.(Could this refer to the possibility that, bythis time, he had already composed his - orPeter's - Gospel, or at least a first versionof it, and that he was therefore entitled tobe called a true "servant of the Word"?There are other evidences that his Gospelwas in evidence even before Peter wasmartyred in Rome.
2
Highly qualified assistants are mentionedelsewhere in the New Testament.
3
Thus, 1Peter 5:12: "By Silvanus, a faithful brotherunto you, as I suppose, I have writtenbriefly, exhorting, and testifying that this isthe true grace of God wherein ye stand."Paul's letter to the Romans, 16:22, reads:"I, Tertius, who am writing this letter, greetyou in the Lord."
4
These were more than ordinary scribes;they were trained professional editors,comparable to the modern-day politicalspeech-writer. The contrast between thepolished Greek of 1 Peter and the gritty,Hebraic style of 2 Peter was due toSilvanus, an experienced secretary who hadalready proved his worth in Paul's first andsecond letters to the Thessalonians.To assuage any doubts about the finaleditorial authenticity, Paul would frequentlyadd his personal signature in his ownhandwriting.
5
It may come as a surprise to many of ourreaders that one of the common, virtuallyobligatory, qualifications among theprofessionals in the Greco-Roman worldwas that of a
tachygrphos
, or shorthandwriter.
6
Among the disciples, Matthew, a formercustoms official, would also likely have hada working knowledge of 
tachygraphy 
, andthus may have been able to transcribe theSermon on the Mount verbatim, just as
 
 Tertius and others were able to transcribePaul's more verbose utterances.
7
Even in the Old Testament, in Psalm 45:1,the Hebrew,
sopher mehir 
, the "readywriter (KJV)," or "skillful writer (NIV)," istranslated in the Greek Septuagint,
oxugrafoV
,
oxygrphos
, a synonym for
tachygrphos
, or shorthand writer. Thetechnical term must have been commonenough among Greek-speaking Jews in the3rd century B.C. for its use in theSeptuagint to have any purpose.Paul also mentions a technical term,
membranae
, a Latin word transcribed intoGreek, referring to a parchment notebook.
8
This was apparently a predecessor to the
codex 
, or "book" that we know today.These were written on both sides of thesheet and were small and often pocket-sized. They were easy to handle, to skipthrough for reference, and to store, andthus led to the ultimate departure from thetraditional scrolls.
Nomina Sacra
The tedious, painstaking tasks of record-keeping in the ancient world is difficult forus to imagine today. Thus, it isunderstandable that abbreviations wereeven more common in antiquity than today.Even in our linguistic world, when atechnical term emerges, or a complexphrase is used with substantial frequency,we indulge in abbreviations or acronyms:NATO for North Atlantic TreatyOrganization; DNA for deoxyribonucleicacid; or the alphabet soup associated withgovernmental organizations: CIA, FBI,DOD, et al.
9
One of the more significant incidences of abbreviated words, found even on theearliest samples of formalized writing, isthe use of 
nomina sacra
, holy names.
10
 One example is the
chi-rho
,
Cr
, amonogram of Christ consisting of the firsttwo letters of His name in Greek,
CristoV
,
Christos
. Others include:Jesus,
IhsouV
 
Iesous
=
IV
God,
qeoV
,
Theos
=
qV
Holy Spirit,
pneuma
,
Pneuma
=
pna
 

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