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Encyclopedia > Scroll

A scroll is a roll of papyrus, klaf in Hebrew, vellum in Old French, parchment, or paper which has been written, drawn or painted upon for the purpose of transmitting information or using as a decoration. It is distinguished from a roll (see below) by virtue of being intended for multiple use rather than continuous, but once-only use of the roll. Scrolls in general have greater value for the owners then rolls.
Look up scroll, scrolling in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Papyrus (disambiguation). ... Vellum (from the Old French Vélin, for calfskin[1]) is a sort of parchment, a material for the pages of a book or codex, characterized by its thin, smooth, durable properties. ... German parchmenter, 1568 Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. ... For other uses, see Paper (disambiguation). ... Look up roll in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Image:241530 7953 torah.jpg
A scroll of Sefer Torah opened for liturgical reading in a synagogue service. This is much wider than most ancient scrolls, written longitudinally.


It has been suggested that Tawrat be merged into this article or section. ... A synagogue (from ancient Greek: , transliterated synagogē, assembly; Hebrew: beit knesset, house of assembly; Yiddish: , shul; Ladino: , esnoga) is a Jewish house of worship. ...



The greatest usage of scrolls today is in Jewish religious observance at least every week in each Bet Knesset (Synagogue) or Bet Midrash (house of learning).

The Sefer Torah scroll (Hebrew: ספר תורה ; plural: ספרי תורה, Sifrei Torah ; "Book(s) of Torah" or "Torah Scroll(s)" ) is only opened during actual reading, and covered with bein gavras, the flat, embroidered cover placed over the Torah between Aliyot (those called to the seven Torah readings). When stored, the Sefer Torah is always in an upright position, resting on the lower handles.
In Jewish practice the Torah scrolls are bound by a special length of usually silk ties or belts with clasps, and in Ashkenazi practice are covered or "dressed" in protective embroidered kippah (mantle), and external ornamental silver Tas (breastplate), and usually a silver Keter (crown) of beaten silver placed over the upper atzei chaim (handles). In Sephardi practice the Keter is built into the portable Aron and the Sefer Torah is never removed from it, the reading conducted with the scroll remaining in the upright position, while that of the Ashkenazi practice is laid on a recliner. These ornaments are not objects of worship, but are used only to beautify the scroll as sacred and holy living word of God. The reading pointer, or yad, to help the reader keep track of the text without actually touching it, is also stored with the scrolls usually by means of being hung on a chain suspended from the upper handles over the Tas, or over the Aron latch. In Jewish designs the handles with their top and bottom plates are known as atzei chaim (trees of life), and are often highly decorated with silver, and etchings.
The upper handles are decorated with Rimonim (pomegranates) that include bell decorations. The scroll is stored in a cylindrical Aron (case) in the Sephardic practice, and in an often extremely elaborate Aron Kodesh (Hekhál amongst most Sefardim) in Ashkenazi designs, preferably built on the East wall, which takes the shape of a large, often walk-in niche with doors and covered with an elaborately decorated embroidered parokhet (curtain) either inside (Sephardim) or outside (Ashkenazim) the doors. The Parokhet usually includes the name of the congregation and that of its donors.

In Greek and Latin usage the scrolls were mostly used for texts, including scholarly texts, and were stored on open racks that accommodated the scrolls laid flat suspended by the handles, usually uncovered. In a later Early Christian era the scrolls became quite valuable as scribal skills became less common, and were often stored in protected leather cases. Some texts that were declared heretical by the Church, but were retained for study, were secured by special locks somewhat like the chastity belts in use at the time.

History of scroll use

Origins in Europe and West Asia

Scrolls were the first form of editable record keeping texts, used in Eastern Mediterranean ancient Egyptian civilizations.
Parchment scroll used by Israelites after Sinai was the first use of scrolls in the recording of literature before the codex or bound book with pages was invented by the Latins in the first century CE to differentiate their usage from that of the Judeans who were recently conquered. Nevertheless, scrolls were more highly regarded than codices until well into Roman times where they were usually written in single latitudinal column.
First page of the Codex Argenteus A codex (Latin for block of wood, book; plural codices) is a handwritten book, in general, one produced from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages. ... For other uses, see Book (disambiguation). ... The Latins were an ancient Italic people who migrated to central Italy, (Latium Vetus - Old Latium), in the 2nd millennium B.C., maybe from the Adriatic East Coast and Balkanic Area, perhaps from pressures by Illyrian peoples. ... (1st century BC - 1st century - 2nd century - other centuries) The 1st century was that century which lasted from 1 to 99. ...

Eastern Mediterranean, West Asia and Europe


In Dynastic Egypt scrolls were made from papyrus. The way a scroll was read by being unrolled meant scribes were sometimes confused; for example, there are versions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead with repeated sections.
For other uses, see Papyrus (disambiguation). ... The Book of the Dead comd A Section of Plate 3 from the Papyrus of Ani. ...


The Hebrew texts teach that Torah was copied by Moses onto a scroll c.3300 BCE which was made from skin of a kosher animal and not papyrus as in Dynastic Egypt. Since that time the scrolls are copied from one to another due to their extreme survivability, with examples known to be hundreds of years old such as the 800 Year Old Sephardic Sefer Torah from Spain.[1] The meticulous process of hand-copying a scroll takes about 2,000 hours (a full-time job for one year). Throughout the centuries, Jewish scribes have adhered to the following guidelines: It has been suggested that Tawrat be merged into this article or section. ... Moses with the Tablets, 1659, by Rembrandt This article is about the Biblical figure. ... The circled U indicates that this can of tuna is certified kosher by the Union of Orthodox Congregations. ... For other uses, see Papyrus (disambiguation). ...

  • A Torah Scroll is disqualified if even a single letter is added.
  • A Torah Scroll is disqualified if even a single letter is deleted.
  • The scribe must be a learned, pious Jew, who has undergone special training and certification.
  • All materials (parchment, ink, quill) must conform to strict specifications, and be prepared specifically for the purpose of writing a Torah Scroll.
  • The scribe may not write even one letter into a Torah Scroll by heart. Rather, he must have a second, kosher scroll opened before him at all times.
  • The scribe must pronounce every word out loud before copying it from the correct text.
  • Every letter must have sufficient white space surrounding it. If one letter touched another in any spot, it invalidates the entire scroll.
  • If a single letter was so marred that it cannot be read at all, or resembles another letter (whether the defect is in the writing, or is due to a hole, tear or smudge), this invalidates the entire scroll. Each letter must be sufficiently legible so that even an ordinary schoolchild could distinguish it from other, similar letters.
  • The scribe must put precise space between words, so that one word will not look like two words, or two words look like one word.
  • The scribe must not alter the design of the sections, and must conform to particular line-lengths and paragraph configurations.
  • A Torah Scroll in which any mistake has been found, cannot be used, and must be fixed within 30 days, or buried.

The Torah scroll contains 304,805 letters (or approximately 79,000 words).
Other books of the TaNaKh are also written in scroll form, as well as the mezuzah scrolls found in most orthodox, conservative and reform Jewish households. Many Jewish families also own their own Megillah scroll for use during Purim.
Tanakh (‎) (also Tanach, IPA: or , or Tenak) is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. ... Mezuzah (IPA: ) (Heb. ... Important note: This article should not be confused with the five books of the Torah (or Pentateuch) which also consists of five books -- sometimes called scrolls -- (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. ... Purim (Hebrew: פורים Pûrîm lots, from Akkadian pūru) is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance from Hamans plot to annihilate all the Jews of the Persian Empire, who had survived the Babylonian captivity, after Persia had conquered Babylonia who in turn had destroyed the First Temple...

Syria and Babylon

The Jewish communities residing in these countries used same techniques to manufacture scrolls with the exception of the deer skins being used rather than the calf, lamb or goat skins elsewhere. The scrolls from these areas were known for their quality and durability, and were later imported into European and Indian communities.
Non-Jewish vellum manufacturing also took place after 3rd century before current era.

Greece and Rome

Scrolls were used by the ancient Greeks who borrowed the practice from Israel and Judea. Alexander the Great brought the Library of Solomon from his conquest of Persia where it was taken when the city was overcome by the Babylonians in 597 BCE. These scrolls were used as founding texts of the Library of Alexandria.
In Roman usage the scrolls were written latitudinally, usually placed on podiums with roll holders from which the rolls were unwound.
Inscription regarding Tiberius Claudius Balbilus of Rome (d. ...

Early Christian era

Scrolls continued to be used during the Early Church era until the early Middle Ages era. Owing to the copying practices many errors were introduced into the texts at this time.
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, a book written to prove the validity of the New Testament, says: " A study of 150 Greek [manuscripts] of the Gospel of Luke has revealed more than 30,000 different readings... It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the New Testament in which the [manuscript] is wholly uniform."

Other scholars report there are some 200,000 variants in the existing manuscripts of the New Testament, representing about 400 variant readings which cause doubt about textual meaning; 50 of these are of great significance.

The Torah has nine spelling variants -- with absolutely no effect on the meaning of the words.

The point of course is not to denigrate Christianity. Rather, this comparison demonstrates the remarkable accuracy of the Jewish copying transmission of Torah.

European Middle Ages

Scrolls virtually disappeared in Europe during the Dark Ages, and re-emerged only rarely for use in official treaties and other international documents of great significance during and after the Baroque Era of the 17th century. These were usually written on high quality vellum, and stored in elaborate silver and gold cases inscribed with names of participants. Earlier examples were written in Latin. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...

West and Central Asia

Scrolls continued in use longer in the Islamic world, often elaborately decorated in calligraphic writing that included use of gold embossing and pigments when used for the writing of the Qua'ran.


Please add information if available!

China and East Asia

Scrolls continued in use longer in the East Asia cultures like China and Japan, the oldest dated printed book to survive is a sixteen foot long Chinese Buddhist copy of the Diamond Sutra, dated 868.
The Chinese invented and perfected 'Indian Ink' for use in writing, including scrolls. Originally designed for blacking the surfaces of raised stone-carved hieroglyphics, the ink was a mixture of soot from pine smoke and lamp oil mixed with the gelatin of donkey skin and musk. The ink invented by the Chinese philosopher, Tien-Lcheu (2697 B.C.), became common by the year 1200 B.C.
Later other formats came into use in China, firstly the sutra or scripture binding, a scroll folded concertina-style, which avoids the need to unroll to find a passage in the middle. By about 1,000 CE, sheet-based formats were introduced, although scrolls continued to have a place. Traditional painting and calligraphy in East Asia is often still performed on relatively short latitudinal paper scrolls displayed vertically as a hanging-scroll on a wall.
The Chinese Diamond Sutra, the oldest known dated printed book in the world, printed in the 9th year of Xiantong Era of the Tang Dynasty, i. ... English concertina made by Wheatstone around 1920 A concertina, like the various accordions, is a member of the free-reed family of instruments. ... Painter redirects here. ... Contemporary Calligraphy Calligraphy (from Greek kallos beauty + graphẽ writing) is the art of beautiful writing (Mediavilla 1996: 17). ...

Modern era

Torah Scrolls are still used today in Jewish religious observance with almost insignificant changes despite the thousands of years in practice.

Some cultures use scrolls as ceremonial texts or for decoration called a hanging scroll, without any obvious division of the text into columns. In some scroll-using cultures painted illustrations were used as header decorations above the text columns, either in a continuous band or broken into scenes above either a single or double-column of text.
A hanging scroll, wall hanging, or wall scroll, is a type of traditional scroll, with rods on the top and bottom, usually hung on walls. ...

Scrolls have experienced a revival in the 20th century as they are now used frequently in virtual rather than physical sense, in computer application such as word processors, web browsers) and film closing credits. This is known as scrolling.
Scrolls are also used for classroom instruction, where being able to see an entire text, or at least large sections of it, can be beneficial, particularly in use of portable screens for projection of images.
(19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... Application has the following meanings: In general, an application is using something general to some more conrete. ... A word processor (also more formally known as a document preparation system) is a computer application used for the production (including composition, editing, formatting, and possibly printing) of any sort of viewable or printed material. ... A web browser is a software package that enables a user to display and interact with documents hosted by web servers. ... “Moving picture” redirects here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article needs cleanup. ...


Shorter pieces of parchment or paper are called rolls, which may still be many meters or feet long, were used in the medieval and Early Modern period in Europe and various West Asian cultures for manuscript administrative documents intended for various uses including accounting, rent-rolls, legal agreements and inventories. Unlike scrolls, these are usually written down the length of the roll latitudinally. Rolls may be wider than most scrolls, up to perhaps 60cm or two feet wide. Rolls were often stored together in a special cupboard on shelves.
A special Chinese form of short book called the "whirlwind book" consists of several pieces of paper bound at the top with bamboo and then rolled up.[1] German parchmenter, 1568 Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. ... For other uses, see Paper (disambiguation). ... A manuscript (Latin manu scriptus, written by hand), strictly speaking, is any written document that is put down by hand, in contrast to being printed or reproduced some other way. ...

Rolls survive today in retail cash register use and as toiletry tissue rolls. Register or registration may mean: Registration (or licensing) is required of a number of occupations and professions where maintenance of standards is required to protect public safety. ... Look up Tissue in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


  1. ^ International Dunhuang Project - Chinese scroll and "whirlwind" forms from C10th

to be inserter pending further research

External links

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Scroll - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (144 words)
A scroll is a roll of parchment, papyrus, or paper which has been drawn or written upon.
A scroll is the decoratively curved end of the pegbox of certain stringed instruments such as violins.
Scrolls are often used to judge the luthier's skill.
Scroll (parchment) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (302 words)
The linear access of the scroll meant that it was easy to confuse the scribes; for example, there are versions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead with multiple, repeated sections.
Scrolls are still used today in some religious contexts; in Jewish and many other cultures, a scroll is read with one roll to the left and one roll to the right, and with columns of text running from top to bottom.
Typically, each end of a scroll is attached to a rod or baton for support and to protect from damage during storage and use.
  More results at FactBites »



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