The scroll of Isaiah (Lk 4:17-4:17)

“The scroll

Of the prophet Isaiah

Was given to Jesus.

He unrolled

The scroll.

He found the place

Where it was written.”

 

καὶ ἐπεδόθη αὐτῷ βιβλίον τοῦ προφήτου Ἡσαΐου, καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ βιβλίον εὗρεν τὸν τόπον οὗ ἦν γεγραμμένον

 

This is unique to Luke, who described in detail what was happening at a Sabbath service in Nazareth.  The question would be whether this small town could afford a synagogue or have a special scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  Luke said that a scroll of the prophet Isaiah (βιβλίον τοῦ προφήτου Ἡσαΐου) was given to Jesus (καὶ ἐπεδόθη αὐτῷ).  Although the Greek word for a book βιβλίον was used, it would have been extremely rare to have a book, since even today, the scroll is used more often.  Jesus then unrolled this scroll (καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ βιβλίον), until he found the place where it was written (εὗρεν τὸν τόπον οὗ ἦν γεγραμμένον) about what he was looking for.  This would have been the common practice at a synagogue, but it certainly was not a book, but rather a scroll.

Different printed Bibles

The early bibles had to be copied by hand in manuscript form, since there was no printing press until the 15th century.  The classic Bible of the middle ages was the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation of St. Jerome.  The first book ever printed in the 15th century was the Latin Bible.  In the 16th century, the various translations began to appear, the most famous being the German New Testament translation of Martin Luther.  The English, under King James I (1603-1625) decided to set up a committee to translate the Bible into Elizabethan English.  They finished their task in 1611.  The King James Bible became the only authorized Bible in the English language and has dominated the American religious scene, because of its use among the American Puritans.  The Roman Catholics produced an English Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible in France about the same, in 1609-1610.

 

Sentimental Bible interpretations

When you ask young people what they know about the Bible, they might be able to sing the little Bible song, “How do you know that Jesus loves you?  I know that Jesus loves me, because the Bible tells me so.”  Most of us have this sentimental approach to the Bible as a book with a lot of nice stories about Adam and Eve, Moses, and Jesus, but very little else.