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by Wayne Blank
"Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments." (2 Timothy 4:9-13 RSV) (see also Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey, Paul's Third Missionary Journey and Timothy)
Parchment Was Used Before Paper Was Invented
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.