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by Wayne Blank
Parchment was an ancient writing material made from the processed skins of animals, most often that of calves, sheep and goats. Much more durable than papyrus, parchment was widely used until the invention of paper.
The name is thought to be derived from Pergamum (see The Seven Churches), an ancient city of Asia Minor (today Turkey) where parchment is said to have been invented in the second century B.C. Although skins had been used much earlier, the new method of processing made possible the writing on both sides of a manuscript page, which resulted in the replacing of the rolled manuscript with the bound pages of the codex ("book").
The finest parchment, known as vellum, was made from the more delicate skin of a very young calf or lamb. The term was widened to include any very fine parchment. Vellum up to about the 6th century A.D. was of very high quality, but increased demand thereafter resulted in inferior material being used.
Vellum also included a very sumptuous version that was dyed purple (considered a "royal" color), and had silver or gold used in the inscribed writing. The purple dye fell out of favor, but the "illuminated" parchment in silver and gold continued.
In modern times, the terms vellum and parchment have been used for a type of high quality paper with a special finish.
This Week's Bible Quiz
Is this verse (Revised Standard Version) found in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or both Old and New Testaments?
1. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel"
2. "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more."
3. "And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a Ruler who will govern My people Israel."
4. "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of The Lord, make His paths straight."
5. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
6. "You shall not tempt The Lord your God."
7. "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned."
8. "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice."
9. "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee."
10. "He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will any one hear His voice in the streets; He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till He brings justice to victory; and in His name will the Gentiles hope."
For the answers to this April 2 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page