Archaeology, Bible, Main, z235
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More Dead Sea Scroll fragments of the Bible discovered

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is reporting that archaeologists have found nearly two dozen fragments from the Book of Zechariah and Nahum in a cave known as the “Cave of Horrors” that was originally discovered in the 1950s in connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In 2017, the IAA decided to re-visit these caves over concerns that looters were working the caves. To access the Cave of Horrors, archaeologists had to repel down a 260-foot cliff.

The cave got its name from the skeletons of 40 men, women and children that had taken refuge in the cave hiding from Roman soldiers during the second century Jewish revolt that took place between 132 AD and 136 AD.

Archaeologists also found the remains of a Roman camp near the cave leading some to speculate that they knew the Jews were in the cave and simply decided to starve them out.

And though the cave had not been studied for nearly 60 years, this second effort proved worthwhile. In addition, to discovering fragments of the Bible, they also discovered the body of a young girl not believed to have been connected to the 40 bodies discovered earlier and a woven basket.

So far, they have been able to decipher 11 lines from the two minor prophets that were part of several clumps discovered in the cave. Though written in Greek, the fragments also contained the Hebrew name for God written in a form of Hebrew used during the first Temple period. The first Jewish temple was destroyed in 586 BC.

It is believed the remaining portions of the clumps yet to be studied also contain excerpts from the minor prophets and are probably remnants of a much larger find of the Minor Prophets discovered during the first excavation of the cave in the 1950s.

The Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, between 1946 and 1956, after a Muslim shepherd looking for a lost sheep threw a stone into a cave and heard pottery breaking.

Inside the cave, he found several large clay jars that contained scrolls of the Jewish Biblical text along with other non-Biblical writings.

During the digs in these caves, archaeologists discovered tens of thousands of fragments from the Jewish Old Testament.

These remnants dated from as early as 408 BC and include scripture written in multiple languages — Greek, Hebrew, Nabataean and Aramaic.

This recent discovery adds to the growing list of fragments/copies that have been discovered containing the Old and New Testament scriptures.

Researchers have uncovered nearly 25,000 fragments from the New Testament alone. This includes 6,000 written in the original Greek and the remainder being translations of the New Testament in other ancient languages.

Some of these fragments date to within a few decades of when the New Testament books were actually written during the first century.

In addition, the writings of the early church fathers in the second and third centuries contains large sections of scripture, that once compiled, contained the entire New Testament.

The Old Testament is essentially the same. Archaeologists have found tens of thousands of Old Testament fragments in the Dead Sea scrolls alone.

As Bible apologists like to point out, more fragments and copies of the Bible have been discovered than any other ancient texts.

As a comparison, only 10 copies/fragments of Caesar’s Gallic Wars have been uncovered. The earliest is dated to 1,000 years after it was first written in the first century BC.

And there are only five partial copies of Aristotle’s Poetic, and the earliest was written 1,400 years after it was first written in the fourth century BC.

But aside from the sheer quantity of Biblical texts discovered, the recent find again reveals how carefully, the ancients scribes were when they were making copies of the scripture

You can see how little has changed in Zechariah 8:16-7 recently discovered in the Cave of Horrors and translated into English from its original Greek:

16: These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates.

17: And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate – declares the Lord.’ 

When compared to the ESV used today:

16 These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

17 do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”

READ: Dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing biblical text are discovered in Israel’s ‘Cave of Horror’ having been hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome 1,900 years ago AND The Manuscripts

1 Comment

  1. What is Gnosticism ?
    Gnosticism is an umbrella word for a broad spectrum of esoteric beliefs and ritual practices that variously combined elements of Christian faith, pre – Christian pagan beliefs, Platonic and Neoplatonic ideas in the early Christian centuries. It is hare to define them with any precision just as it is difficult to delineate the phenomenon of New Age in our times. Yet some of the general features that characterized the Gnostic approach may be mentioned.
    a. The Gnostics claimed that they have a special spiritual knowledge or revelation of the divine mystery hidden to others who were outside the realm of gnosis (= knowledge). The Gnostics had elaborately worked out esoteric ways and means of acquiring this so-called special insight which constituted for them the crux of salvation. Christian Gnostics had their own interpretation of the scripture and they produced “new scripture” like the Gospel of Thomas or Peter or Philip.
    b. Many Gnostic Groups had a dualistic understanding of matter and spirit. What counted for them was the spirit, and matter and material body were looked down upon. Salvation was for the soul, and the body had to be controlled and eventually suppressed by extremely severe ascetic practices in order to liberate the soul. In some Gnostic streams the same argument in favour of the spirit permitted licentious debasing of human body.
    c. Some Gnostic streams were misogynic and taught that women were the source of evil. They identified body with the female, and spirit with the male. Both woman and material body, according to them, were channels of evil forces.
    Some of the pseudo-gospels and other Gnostic writings showed this anti-woman and anti – body trait. It is to be noticed that in the four canonical gospels Jesus never condemned women or looked down upon them simply because they were women. Instead he showed compassion, understanding and respect towards women. Here is a saying attributed to Jesus and appearing at the end of the “gospel of Thomas” (some say it is a later addition):
    114. Simon peter said to them, “Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life.” Jesus said, “Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.”
    Formation of the canon and the Gospel of Thomas
    What we call the formation of “Canon of the Scripture” or the books of the Bible approved by the Church took a long time. There are still unresolved questions. For example, in the Syrian tradition the books of St. Clement of Rome (end of 1st century AD) are listed as canonical scripture while the Book of Revelation is not recommended for public reading on liturgical occasions. This is not so in the Western Church. In the Old Testament also there are books like Maccabees, Judith, Tobit and some others which Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches accept as part of the Bible while the protestant Churches do not. Such books are sometimes called ‘apocrypha’ (hidden writings) or better “deutero – canonical” books or books of secondary canonical status. They are not generally printed in the Bible published by Protestant Bible societies.
    Though there were some open questions in the complex process of the formation of the conon of the Bible, there was never any doubt in the Church about the four Gospels and their primary significance as the Holy scripture of the Church, witnessing to the saving events in the life of the incarnate Christ. The disputed Gnostic writings of later origin and the so – called gospels like that of Thomas or Philip or Peter do not belong even to the deutero-canonical books. They are simple outside the authentic Tradition of the Church. Even a Quick reading of them will tell us why the Church rejected such later writings that betrayed ambiguous and distorted interpretations of the life and message of Jesus Christ as handed down to us by the Apostles. They may have a value as ancient writings reflecting the thought pattern of certain marginal groups or individuals in the Greco – Roman civilization in the early Christian period. But they can never claim to be part of the Holy Bible of the Church.
    Greek Orthodox Church


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