bible

I was rather surprised to discover that the word bible is a much later coinage than I had thought. It doesn’t appear until the Middle English period and Chaucer is one of the earliest known writers to use the word.

Bible ultimately comes from the Greek βιβλία (biblia), which originally meant “little books.” Over time the Greek word lost its diminutive sense and biblia came to mean simply “books.” Latin borrowed the Greek word, but quite late; it appears in Latin texts from Britain by the seventh century C.E. The more common word in Latin to refer to the Christian scriptures was bibliotheca, another originally Greek word and which literally means “library,” showing that the Bible was viewed as a collection of books, and not as a single text.

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