Does the first version of the Bible still exist?

Almost everyone here answers correctly: no.
There is no first version (and there cannot be) which would actually have the question settled.

With a little more foresight, however, the question arises as to which are the oldest surviving written documents.And there is absolutely nothingthat comes even close to times like the second millennium BCE (vulgo: B.C.), let alone from about the year 3000 BCE.

Such dates assume that some biblical content, that is, especially its narrative version, is often so old in the form of a legend.That may be the case. But they were probably written down much later, and the oldest fragments of biblical texts, often only fingernail-sized, date (in my mind!) only from the second or third century BCE.

However, the fact that written versions existed up to that date may well be regarded as certain.We haven’t found any so far.

This is not due to the writing material, etc.From several neighbouring cultures and religions there are in some ways extensive written testimonies of other religious basic seam, such as the “death book” of the ancient Egyptian religion already mentioned here. However, it does not seem to be a text as firmly coined as in previous research. Around 1920, Egyptology still assumed that the well-developed “historical-critical” textual research approached quite close to the “original” version.

In the meantime, it is quite clear that this will not be possible, because the structure and content of the present version are already far too different.One would therefore have to talk about the “death books”, even if the religious imagination shows only a few variants. The court scene, depicted with a scale on which a scale ma’at, the justice, stands in the form of a feather rather than lies, as well as the “lurking” – if you like – executive, namely the big eater, is, for example, relatively uniform in the different versions.In addition, however, there is a wide range of variations, including content.

It is undisputed that there are similarities to later Jewish court ideas, even if they have no nearly similar meanings in Judaism.It is only in Christianity that the idea of judgment becomes more central again. For Judaism, it can be said that the issue of “justice” is already very central. The term, however, has taken on a much more dazzling meaning there.

The original textual form of biblical writings, like other historical texts, is used with the so-calledhistorical-critical method on the basis of the text finds in rem and reconstructed again and again. As good as the means used have become in the last 300 years or so, new methods are often tested, and even with the recognised and existing ones, the reconstruction of a “original form” of a text often depends very much on the weighting of the various sub-disciplines and their results.

In this respect, it can be said that some parts of the Bible can now be traced relatively well back to an original text, or at least to the intellectual content and structure.Here, however, it is also true that a single new archaeologic fund can throw the previous results over the top. In this respect, the question originally raised here cannot be answered in the affirmative or answered in the affirmative. This is unsatisfactory for many.

For any biblical theology (with different definitions of “Bible” and “Theology”) is a much more important question, however, why, at a certain point in time, a text in only one form – and from there – was handed down quite verbatim.

For large parts of Judaism, this question does not even arise.The text of the Tenach (alo of the Jewish Bible) is exactly the same as the letter (and more!) Masoretic school. With the means of the then science was then (approx. 6.-8.Jh.) a canonical text, which is still valid today and will probably not be changed – today’s science or not.

Christianity in its early days had no instance nearly as similar to the Masorets.No wonder, it was more than a thousand years (disputed number, probably too low) later than Judaism, but originated on its basis. But it was precisely in these centuries that the text of the Jewish Bible, to which Christianity refers, was not as much defined as it was more than half a millennium later.

But what was probably (from a textological point of view) fatal was the appointment of the Western Roman Church by its only “patriarch”, the Bishop of Rome one of the five historical “patriarchs” that had previously been practically equal on the law (Alexandria, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch, Rome) on the only valid biblical version in the translation (!) of the Vulgata not the first or only Latin translation of the Bible!

The Vulgata has quite a few translation errors, especially in the “Old Testament”, as the Christians called the Jewish Bible, which Tenach/Tanach called the Jewish Bible, which they completely adopted.One of the most influential art-historical things was, for example, the mistranslation of the external description of Moses: he allegedly had horns.

The original text was thus virtually forbidden.It was only the humanist renaissance from the middle of the 15th century that it was possible to assert itself against it.
It was only through this that the original texts and their tradition came back into view.

But we still do not know what exactly these texts looked like.

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