Dictionary of Bible Terms

  1. Autograph--An original writing of a biblical document.  The original manuscript written.
  2. Canon--The collection of books that are considered inspired from God and authoritative in all areas addressed.
  3. Codex--An early book form made from papyri leaves cut, folded, and sewn together in the middle to make a book.  First used in the 2nd century.
  4. Coptic--The Afro-Asiatic language of the Copts, which survives only as a liturgical language of the Coptic Church.
  5. Eschatology--From the Greek "eschatos," which means "last," and "logos," which means "word." It is the study of last things:  the tribulation, the rapture, the return of Jesus, the final judgment, etc.
  6. Eschaton--The return of Jesus.  From the Greek "eschatos," which means "last."
  7. Extant--That which exists.
  8. Hamartiology--The study of sin.
  9. Inerrancy--Without error.  The Bible is without error.
  10. Inspiration--The teaching that the Bible is "God-breathed."  It is, therefore, accurate in all it addresses.  The authors of the Bible were inspired of God; that is, they wrote under the divine guidance of God.
  11. LXX--The Roman numerals for 70.  It is used to describe the Septuagint which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures done (traditionally) by 70 scholars around 250-150 B.C.
  12. Manuscript--A document or a copy of an original writing.
  13. Minuscule--The Greek characters of lower case:  abgde, etc.  Different copies of Greek manuscripts appear in minuscule form. See Uncial.
  14. Opisthograph--a scroll with writings on both sides.
  15. Palimpsest--Vellum that was previously used for a writing surface that has been scraped clean and dressed, and then another writing is made on the surface.  Codex Ephraemi rescriptus is one of these.  It is possible to use certain chemicals and ultraviolet light to uncover the writings underneath the second writing.
  16. Papyrus--A plant growing along the Nile in Egypt during biblical times.  It was used as writing material.  Papyrus scrolls were made by cutting and pressing sections of the papyri plant together at right angles.  They typical maximum length of a scroll was about 35 feet.  The scribe, when using papyrus, would often use the natural horizontal fibers of the papyrus plant as guidelines.  He would take a blunt instrument and score horizontal lines and then score two or more vertical lines as margins for the edge of the sheet or to define columns on it. We get the word "paper" from this word.  Many of the biblical manuscripts were on papyrus.
  17. Parable--A short fictional story told to illustrate one or more moral points.
  18. Pentateuch--The first five (penta) books of the Bible:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  These are attributed to Mosaic authorship.
  19. Pericope--per-ik-o-pee--A selection from a book.  A small set of Bible verses, read.
  20. Pneumatology--The study of the Holy Spirit.
  21. Quire--A collection of leaves of parchment or paper, folded one within the other, in a manuscript or book.
  22. Rapture--The teaching that those Christians who are alive at the beginning, middle, or end of the tribulation period will be transformed (resurrected) and caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds.   (1 Thess. 4:16-5:2; 2 Thess. 2)
  23. Regeneration--Spiritual or physical change.  Biblically, it is the saving of a person from his or her sins.  It is being born again (John 3).  It is a spiritual change in a person, whereby he becomes indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
  24. Soteriology--The study of the doctrine of salvation.
  25. Synoptic Gospels--The first three gospels:  Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  They are referred to as the synoptics because of their great similarity.
  26. Testament--Latin for Covenant.  Old Testament and New Testament are Old and New Covenants.
  27. Textual Criticism--The study of the biblical documents, their copying, transmission, writing style, instruments, etc.  It deals with the reconstruction of the original writings through these elements.
  28. Theology--The study of the things of God.
  29. Trinity--The Doctrine that there is one God in three persons: not three gods, but one God.
  30. Uncial--The Greek characters of upper case:  ABGDE, etc.  Different copies of Greek manuscripts appear in Uncial form.   See Minuscule.
  31. Vellum--A material used for writing, like paper.  It was made from animal skins, usually from cattle, sheep, goats, and antelope.  The hair was scraped off of the skins, then they were washed, smoothed, and dressed with chalk.  Vellum was used until the late Middle Ages until paper was introduced into Europe from China via Arab traders.  Vellum lasted longer than papyrus and was tougher, but the edges sometimes became torn and tattered.  The two oldest parchment manuscripts are the Codex Vaticanus (from Egypt) and the Codex Sinaiticus.


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About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.