FAQ :: How was the Bible distributed before publishers and printing presses?

Hard to imagine, but before the invention of the printing press, anything that needed to be copied had to be done so by hand. The words or symbols could be carved on slabs of rock or scratched into beeswax. The invention of ink made written communication much easier and copies could be made on animal hide.

The discovery of papyrus in Egypt gave great gains in the area of copying the Bible. Sheets of papyrus were sewn together like pages and then secured between two boards. A piece of papyrus containing a part of John 18 remains in tact and can be dated back to approximately 125 A.D.

You might think that those processes would leave a great margin for error, but scribes (those who copied manuscripts) could lose their lives if they were caught making a mistake.

In this country today, Bibles are accessible to everyone. They are cheap and often free, but they are also ignored, taken for granted, and frequently abused. We, in this country, are entirely too casual about the treasure we have at our fingertips in our Bibles. It is a miracle that this manuscript survived all of these years and even more miraculous that it still applies!