Watching the World

The complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is available in 43 languages and 3 Braille scripts; the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures is available in an additional 18 languages and 1 Braille script. As of July 2007, the total printing was 143,458,577 copies.

The oldest Bible text known to exist is the so-called Priestly Blessing of Numbers 6:24-26. It was found inscribed on two silver amulets, rolled like scrolls, dating to the late seventh or early sixth century B.C.E.​—BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW, U.S.A.

As of December 31, 2006, the number of languages and dialects in which publication of at least one book of the Bible had been registered was 2,426​—an increase of 23 over the previous year.​—UNITED BIBLE SOCIETIES, BRITAIN.

Some 28 percent of Americans regard the Bible as “the actual word of God . . . to be taken literally,” 49 percent as “the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally,” and 19 percent as a “book of fables.”​—GALLUP NEWS SERVICE, U.S.A.

Oldest Chinese Bible?

“The earliest record about a Chinese translation of the Hebrew Bible is found on a stone stele [left] dating back to 781 CE,” says scholar Yiyi Chen, of Peking University. The stone, erected by Nestorian Christians, came to light in the city of Xi’an in 1625. “The Chinese name of the stele is formally translated as ‘the Memorial of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin’ (. . . Daqin being the Chinese term for the Roman Empire),” explains Chen. “Among the characters on the stele, we find Chinese expressions such as ‘real canon’ and ‘translating the Bible.’”

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© Réunion des Musées Nationaux/​Art Resource

Treasure From a Bog

In 2006, workers digging in an Irish peat bog uncovered a book of Psalms, or Psalter, thought to date back to the eighth century C.E. The Latin manuscript, one of the few survivors of its era, is described as a treasure. The 100 or so vellum pages, in their original binding, are of lavish quality. “The remains of a layer of a concealing mat and a leather carrying-bag suggest that the psalter had been hidden deliberately, perhaps to keep it safe from a Viking raid 1,200 years ago,” says The Times of London. Although the pages are compacted and have partially rotted, experts are confident that they will be able to separate and conserve them.

Truckloads of History

Reports say that archaeologists sifting through truckloads of soil from the site of Jerusalem’s temple have gathered thousands of artifacts dating from pre-Israelite times to the modern era. Among them was an arrowhead of the type used by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the first Jewish temple on that site. The most striking find is a clay seal dating to the seventh or sixth century B.C.E. that is said to bear the Hebrew name Gedalyahu Ben Immer Ha-Cohen. According to archaeologist Gabriel Barkai, its owner “may have been a brother of Pashur Ben Immer, described in the Bible [Jeremiah 20:1] as a priest and temple official.”