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New Revelations about Biblical Texts

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torah scribe

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.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Ed Norton  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Staggering support for Jewish tradition of faithfulness and accuracy. The hand of G-d.

  2. ML Banner  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    This (along with previous findings) really puts a kibosh on the whole, "the bible is riddled with copyist errors" argument. Still it's a marvel.

    • Nick  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      The bible comes down to us as the most accurately translated ancient manuscripts in history. Those who reject its authenticity are blinded by their own preconceived prejudices. We should all appreciate and wonder at the miracle that is the Holy Scriptures.

  3. Ralph Shaffer  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I believe that the Bible is the word of God and that you have done a very good job of presenting information professionally and truthfully. Mans view and sometimes made up history is not God's history.

  4. Steve Mathe  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    The decoded text of the charred fragment of the Book of Leviticus tells us that God's Word is timeless and is preserved for us to use. It points us to the necessity to implore Him to help us especially in national crises, like the one we are in now. Your show and newsletters would do well to advocate that every day, not just for the Internet and radio audiences but also for the presidential candidates themselves.

  5. Aaron  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    It also tells us that the particular Jews who copied the text were ridiculously meticulous and extremely dedicated to a very tedious task. Thank God and Gutenberg for the printing press. Thank all those pioneers of computer science for digital data. The documents are now available to all without the tedious copying.

    I often wonder if the prophets and/or the apostles didn't ask practical or technical questions when they were talking with God. It seem like they were a very incurious lot when it came to some of the more intriguing and technical questions regarding the world and our place in it. The apostles were with Jesus (who claimed to be God) for about three years. That's a long time to pick someones brains and accumulate knowledge. Perhaps they did and it just wasn't recorded.

    When I read the scriptures, I'm always astounded by the lack of interesting questions posed to the one with all the answers.

  6. 3pete  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks for the info Mr. Medved. I always enjoy your insight.

  7. Tori Swingrover  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Lets not hold that it "proves" more than it really does. I do believe the Masoretic Text faithfully conveys the original text of the Tanak. However, this tiny fragment does not "prove" that. It proves that the small portion of Leviticus was faithfully transmitted through the centuries. It only suggests that the rest of the MT was as accurately transmitted as this tiny portion. It provides further bases for trust in the transmission process, but it does not demonstrate it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Of course there are other reasons to trust the MT, such as the Isaiah scroll found in Qumran, but "beyond a shadow of a doubt" has not yet been achieved.

  8. Dave Neidhardt  •  Sep 30, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    This is what I have been telling people for almost 40 years. The Biblical Archeological Society supported this idea with many discoveries in the Mideast.

  9. Carmelo Grajales  •  Oct 1, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Global economies have shifted, along with the redirection of educational ambitions with far less evidence of accuracy or authenticity than what we have in these scriptures. To me that alone that,

  10. Carolyn Broyles  •  Oct 3, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    fantastic find, I went to a bible college once years ago and have thot that these were to be Gods word.

  11. Tru  •  Oct 4, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    What interests me – thinking about Leviticus, which deals primarily with religion laws – is the importance of cleanliness rituals in the main religions, as well as many minor ones. Where does it come from? It occurs all around the world, in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, et. al. and goes back much further than any knowledge of germs. I personally think that ancient times were rife with plagues and early deaths, and on some level most people understood the importance of cleanliness, although many of these religious cleansings have more to do with the abhorrence of bodily fluids than of health, although Herodutus said that the early Egyptians were almost fanaitcally clean and washed their front doorways and porches every morning, for practical reasons.

  12. O.P.  •  Oct 5, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    The oldest error-free ancient scriptures are Vedic scriptures written in Sanskrit. Every religion seems to have this "holy grail" idea of some perfect collection of scriptures that God wants people to interpret. Some ancient writer said "God said" so it must be from God? Spirituality is an experience of God and can't be summed up in some "perfect" set of writings.

    • Louis, Louis  •  Oct 6, 2016 at 11:45 pm

      What do you mean, "error-free"?.

  13. Louis, Louis  •  Oct 6, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    Not an argumentative question, an honest one.

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