Human writing skills have proliferated in the past several thousand years. The Book of Ecclesiastes, attributed to The Preacher, probably Solomon, makes a notable comment about book writing even in his day. The Preacher said, “And further, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Eccl. 12:12 KJV)
Recently our family has been focused on a move from one house to another. When it becomes necessary for a family to change their home location, they acquire multidimensional responsibilities, including how to deal with the accumulation of objects from the past. Disposal of books and other printed matter ranks high on the list of activities associated with relocating. We must put away sentiment and become focused on reorganizing and renewal, especially when we consider the fate of aging books. Most friends agree this activity generates some trauma, especially when a surprising number of acquaintances confess they have even retained their college textbooks! We may be shocked to find out how our human knowledge base has changed since we were college students. As we decide to cull and discard or give away personal books, we might also consider motivations and goals of the writers.
Writing is a special human skill, invented surprisingly late in human history. One wonders why writing skills were not manifest much earlier on the human timeline. Historians have recognized the presence of “full humanity” for tens of thousands of years prior to the invention of writing. Our Science/Faith blog has used the term “full humanity” many times in past years. You may access many blog posts using the term “full humanity” by entering the term in the SEARCH THIS BLOG window.
Sources credit the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia with developing early writing skills about 3500 BC, followed by Egypt in 3200 BC, then China about 1300 BC. Mesoamerican residents developed writing skills in the millennium before the advent of Jesus Christ. The term pre-history refers to the time in human history before writing skills appeared. Even after humans possessed writing skills, autographs (original copies) of the author’s written production are virtually never preserved. They exist as copies. Old Testament writings originated not long after human writing skills were invented. Original manuscripts do not exist even for New Testament authors.
Tools for writing developed in concert with writing skills. For example, early writing was produced with primitive writing tools. Early humans did not have access to plentiful paper, printing methods, and duplicating skills, but in our modern day numerous technological innovations have made the production of books and the distribution of information easy compared with the early days of antiquity. It is not difficult for modern authors to record and publish personal opinions and ideologies utilizing diverse writing styles. Our culture has been blessed with millions of books by tens of thousands of authors. We live in the age of information. The writing of many books is one of the most important means of spreading information. The type and quality of information is exceedingly diverse. We thank our Creator for enabling his children to develop and refine this gift of communication.
Why was writing invented so late in time? We could also ask why knowledge of the wheel, agricultural innovation, genetics, germ theory, animal and plant domestication, human nutrition, aviation, space travel, and electric powered automobiles were not prevalent earlier in human experience? We have listed only a few of blessings divinely bestowed on contemporary humanity.
Writing, specifically the writing of “many books,” is looked upon with various degrees of favor, indifference, or disfavor. Book writing is an effective way to convey truth. It is also a means of spreading misinformation and disinformation—popular terms in our day. We must filter out the useful from the non-useful as we decide which books to purchase, retain, or discard.
Several scripture verses come to mind in relation to our query: why was writing not invented earlier in the timeline of history? Phrases such as those in 2 Cor. 6:2 and Gal. 4:4 speak of “the fullness of time” or “when the time had fully come." These verses primarily refer to the advent of Christ. Modern commentators advance beyond our knowledge of Christ and refer to medical breakthroughs, technological marvels, and increasing human achievement, including the relatively recent advancement in writing. In human history, God works according to HIS calendar.
The fulness of time expression may relate to the human population explosion since the invention of writing and other startling human advancement. Our God oversees the achievements of his created beings, especially those created In His Image. He has endowed humanity with diverse abilities which came to fruition in our day. Metrics for the population explosion since the invention of writing surprise us: In 3000 BC world population was about 14 million. In 2022 world population is 7.9 billion—more than 500 times the human population when writing was invented. Technological advancement now proceeds at a breakneck pace. This human advancement is enabled by Our Heavenly Father—The Creator of All Things.