The written word

I recently watched a wonderful programme on Fry’s Planet Word “Spreading the Word” which Stephan Fry explores how the written word started and developed and changed the world. This programme looks also at the oldest record of the bible that we have, which is the dead sea scrolls (2000 years old) and they show a piece from the psalms and then the 10 commandments – it was really amazing to see! Fry talks about how the written word changed religion and enhanced it as well has persevering cultures.This includes Islam as well and the words in the Qur’an that has led to millions of people being influenced by Islam.

We were looking at the “Word of God” at our team days last week and how that isn’t just restricted to the written word but indeed Jesus being the Word. But it has made me think how perhaps Christianity would be rather different if things were not written down. God told Moses to write everything down and Luke writes things down to record what Jesus did. But you have to be able to read to be able to understand. Imagine a culture that doesn’t have the written word? Imagine what our culture would be like? Printed on the pages are laws, stories and a glimpse of who our God is.

But not just for Religion. The written word is fantastic. Fry mentions how he felt when his written word was in front of him in printed form as a book. He felt amazed by it! It is amazing that what we say can be written and then published and then read by millions of people. This includes blogs and twitter too. Digital words are as important and provides more access for people to read what we are saying. It changes the way we share stories. But will there be a death of books? I doubt it, there is something about a book that is more wonderful than a computer screen.

John Milton says:

“For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.”

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