Karel van der Toorn, in Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible (Harvard, 2007), prefers to avoid the word book to describe the literary productions of the ancient Near East: “There were documents, literary compilations, myths, collections of prayers, ritual prescriptions, chronicles, and the like.” And the Bible became a useful collection of such things: “The Bible is a repository of tradition, accumulated over time, that was preserved and studied by a small body of specialists” (5).
Rather than view the Bible as a library, van der Toorn argues that the Bible is more akin to an archives: “A biblical book is often like a box containing heterogeneous materials brought together on the assumption of common authorship, subject matter, or chronology” (15).
Of course this distinction depends on rather modern conceptions of libraries and archives. …
Below: Jerome at work on the Vulgate (detail from the Biblia Sacra title page above)