Forty-six years ago Israeli archaeologists discovered a charred lump of parchment in the ark of an ancient synagogue near the Dead Sea. They couldn’t unfold it without destroying the burnt scroll but hoped for future technology allowing the contents to be read.
University of Kentucky researchers recently developed the necessary techniques that revealed the parchment to contain the first two chapters of the Biblical book of Leviticus. Amazingly, this 2,000-year-old relic – dated to about 30 AD—conforms in every word, every letter, to the Masoretic Hebrew text used today in Bibles around the world.
Jewish tradition holds that the Five Books of Moses have been copied by hand with meticulous care going back to Moses himself. Since Torah scrolls, using durable parchment and cherished as holy objects, last on average 200 years, some 16 acts of copying would be enough to connect with Sinai.
This astonishing new discovery shows unerring textual faithfulness, going back some two-thirds of that distance.