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Is the Word 'Bible' of Pagan Origin?

The word "Bible" is not of pagan origin. "Bible" derives from Byblos, the Greek name of the Phoenician city, Gebal. The Greeks called this city Byblos due to its importance in the bublos ("Egyptian papyrus") trade. Because they were made of papyrus, books were called biblia by the Greeks, and from a Christian point of view, the greatest collection of Greek writings is what we call the Bible.

Gebal is a Semitic word that generally means a "line," as in a line of mountains or a straight coastline. Whatever it described about this city, "Gebal" is not the name of a pagan deity. Anciently, this Phoenician port's patron deity was named Ba'al Gebal or a Ba'alat Gebal (which mean "Lord of Gebal" or "Lady of Gebal," respectively). In either case, "Gebal" is not the pagan god's/goddess' proper name but merely denotes his/her place of residence: Gebal. This may be the fact that has led some to leap to the conclusion that "Bible" is a word of pagan origin. However, as above, Byblos ("papyrus," book) is a completely different word in a radically different language from Gebal ("line"), even though they are both names of the same city.


 



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