It was announced today that Google, in partnership with Israel’s Antiquities Authority, will be publishing the complete Dead Sea Scrolls in a digital format beginning in a few months.
For the first time in history the general public will have unlimited access to the documents, which have primarily been seen only by scholars since the first fragments were discovered in 1947.
This is no doubt exciting news for seminary teachers and students, as well as anyone with an appreciation for the history of Judaism and Christianity.
To celebrate the occasion, here are some fascinating facts about the Dead Sea Scrolls:
- The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between the years 1947 and 1956. The area is 13 miles east of Jerusalem and is 1300 feet below sea level. The mostly fragmented texts, are numbered according to the cave that they came out of. They have been called the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.
- The Scrolls can be divided into two categories—biblical and non-biblical. Fragments of every book of the Hebrew canon (Old Testament) have been discovered except for the book of Esther.
- One of the most curious scrolls is the Copper Scroll. Discovered in Cave 3, this scroll records a list of 64 underground hiding places throughout the land of Israel. The deposits are to contain certain amounts of gold, silver, aromatics, and manuscripts. These are believed to be treasures from the Temple at Jerusalem, that were hidden away for safekeeping.
- Although the Qumran community existed during the time of the ministry of Jesus, none of the Scrolls refer to Him, nor do they mention any of His followers described in the New Testament.
- The Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact, is 1000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah. In fact, the scrolls are the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity. They represent a non-rabbinic form of Judaism and provide a wealth of comparative material for New Testament scholars, including many important parallels to the Jesus movement. They show Christianity to be rooted in Judaism and have been called the evolutionary link between the two.For more interesting facts on the Dead Sea Scrolls visit http://www.centuryone.com/25dssfacts.html