Roll

ROLL. A scroll, a literary work on papyrus or parchment rolled around a core or spool. The decree of Cyrus to restore the temple was a roll (Ezra.1.1), and Jeremiah wrote on such a roll (Jer.36.2). Books with pages did not come into use until the second century a.d. See also Papyrus and Writing.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


Biblion is regarded by the Bible translators as equivalent to meghillah in the sense of small roll. It is in fact 4 times in the Septuagint of Jer 36 used as the translation for meghillah, but very much oftener it is the translation for cepher, for which in fact it is the correct technical equivalent (Birt, Buchrolle, 21). Indeed the "small book" (Thayer, Lexicon, 101) is hardly consistent with the ideas of the heavens as a scroll, of the Lamb’s Book of Life, or of the vast quantity of books of Joh 21:25, although in Lu 4:17 it may perhaps correspond closely with meghillah in the sense of a complete roll and work, which is at the same time a whole part of a larger work. Its use in Re 6:14 is reminiscent of Isa 34:4 ("scroll"), and is conclusive for the roll form. It is indeed always technically a roll and never codex or tablet.

It is not likely that Isaiah and John (here and in his Gospel, 21:25) refer directly to the Babylonian idea that the heavens are a series of written tablets or to the rabbinic saying that "if all the oceans were ink, all reeds pens, the heavens and earth sheets to write upon, and all men writers, still it would not suffice for writing out the teachings of my Masters" (Blau, op. cit., 34). Nevertheless, the "whole Cosmos" does suggest "the heavens and earth" as sheets to write on, and under all there does perhaps lurk a conception of the broad expanse of heaven as a roll for writing upon.

LITERATURE.

Birt, Die Buchrolle in der Kunst, Leipzig, 1907; Jew Encyclopedia, XI, 126-34, "Scroll of the Law"; Blau, Studien z. althebr. Buchwesen, Strassburg, 1902, 37-66, etc., and the literature under the article "Writing," especially Gardthausen, 134-54.

See also

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