Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dead Sea Scrolls…

Is the name given to a collection of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts found in a number of caves in the barren foothills of the Judean wilderness, just west of the Dead Sea. These documents represent one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries of our era.  It is a wonderful opportunity for us in the Cincy area to take advantage of seeing part of this collection first hand.  http://www.cincymuseum.org/dead-sea-scrolls .  Many folks have stood for hours just to get a glimpse.  I urge to go before April 14, 2013.

As a reminder about the scrolls themselves…more than one-third of these documents are books of the Old Testament, which are older by at least one thousand years than the hitherto earliest known Old Testament manuscripts.
The discovery of the scrolls carries an interesting story.  It is generally traced to 1947 when an Arab shepherd boy missed one of his goats. While searching for it in one of the steep valleys, he threw a stone into a hillside cave and heard what sounded to him like the breaking of pottery. He summoned his assistant and the two entered the cave and found some pottery jars 25 to 29 inches high and about 10 inches wide. In these they found objects that looked much like miniature mummies but were actually leather scrolls wrapped in squares of linen cloth. They were covered with a pitch-like substance, possibly derived from the Dead Sea. With a only a vague idea that they had discovered something significant of antiquity, especially that might bring them money, the shepherds divided the scrolls and set off for Bethlehem, where they located an antiquities dealer and offered him the scrolls for twenty pounds.  The dealer if you can believe it reportedly refused to buy them.

Afterward they were directed to Jerusalem where, after bargaining for weeks, they sold four of the scrolls to Archbishop Athanasius Samuel of St. Mark's Syrian Orthodox Monastery and three to E.L. Sukenik, professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. After Archbishop Samuel presented his scrolls to several authorities who were uncertain about their content and value they were taken to John C. Trever, acting director of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Jerusalem), who photographed and studied some of them, then sent copies to W.F. Albright. This well-known authority tentatively dated them "about 100 b.c.," and declared them "an amazing discovery.

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