In the Old Testament period, the Jews wrote the Law on leather scrolls, from which they read in their synagogues. In the time of the New Testament, papyrus had become the preferred writing material. Papyrus gets its name from the papyrus plant, which formerly grew in abundance along the Nile River in Egypt.

From the stem of the papyrus plant thin strips were cut and laid side by side to form a sheet. A second layer was laid across the first and joined to it by moisture and pressure. After drying and polishing, the sheet was ready for use.

The New Testament’s smaller books, like Philemon and Jude, were undoubtedly written on a single sheet of papyrus. Several papyrus sheets had to be joined, however, to contain the larger books of the New Testament. To hold one of the longer books, like the Gospel of Luke or the book of Acts, a roll (scroll) of about 35 feet was required.

As long as the roll form was used, it was never possible to have the New Testament in one volume, since it would have required a roll of about 200 feet. Thus, in its earliest stages, the New Testament was contained on a collection of scrolls, which were stored safely in a cabinet or similar container.