The Gospel text for this Sunday [Luke 4:16-30] has Jesus in his hometown, and he opens a scroll and reads aloud from it. It is sometimes forgotten that this was an ancient practice. The Old Testament text from Nehemiah has some interesting aspects regarding this as well.
A scroll containing the book of Isaiah was found as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is about 24 feet long and is about 1000 years older than the previous manuscripts that had been discovered. It was certainly a significant discovery, and it was good to know that it was virtually identical with the other manuscripts that we already had.
With all that in mind, have you ever considered the importance of a book? It is most certainly true that all books have some information, but the way in which a modern book is laid out, that certainly makes it easier to get to other parts of the book than unrolling and rolling a huge scroll.
This form of a book, a book with pages, has the fancy name of ‘codex’, and the codex is a consistent characteristic of the early Christian Church. And I do not see this simply as a need to be ‘modern’.
The New Testament is a highly interconnected work, one where the four gospel accounts relate to one another, one where the Gospel according to Luke relates to the Acts of the Apostles, one where the four gospel accounts relate to the first four epistles, and one where the book of Revelation relates to everything else.
With that in mind, why not have a book with pages? The only downside to that would be the attitude that sometimes comes with comparison, that of an arrogance to decide which one is better or more accurate or _______(fill in the blank).
It is interesting that the early Christians also had a solution for that situation. Every time Jesus (and related words) would be mentioned, they would be done in a very special form. For those who understand some Latin (and, if you understand some English, you ALREADY understand some Latin!), these are called ‘nomina sacra’.
When we walk through the Bible, we are treading on holy ground. We have been blessed with the ability to ‘skip around’. Or we may wish simply to ‘rest’ a while in one place. It is such a gift. Jesus is such a gift.