2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls go online

Sep 26, 2011
A tourist is silhouetted standing near a replica of the Dead Sea Scrolls on display, inside the Shrine of the Book building at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. Two thousand years after they were written and decades after they were found in desert caves, some of the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls are available online. Israel's national museum and the international web giant Google are behind the project, which saw five scrolls go online Monday. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Two thousand years after they were written and decades after they were found in desert caves, some of the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls went online for the first time on Monday in a project launched by Israel's national museum and the web giant Google.

The appearance of five of the most important on the Internet is part of a broader attempt by the custodians of the celebrated — who were once criticized for allowing them to be monopolized by small circles of scholars — to make them available to anyone with a computer.

The scrolls include the biblical Book of Isaiah, the manuscript known as the Temple Scroll, and three others. Surfers can search high-resolution images of the scrolls for specific passages, zoom in and out, and translate verses into English.

The originals are kept in a secured vault in a Jerusalem building constructed specifically to house the scrolls. Access requires at least three different keys, a magnetic card and a secret code.

The five scrolls are among those purchased by Israeli researchers between 1947 and 1967 from antiquities dealers, having first been found by Bedouin shepherds in the Judean Desert.

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The scrolls, considered by many to be the most significant archaeological find of the 20th century, are thought to have been written or collected by an ascetic Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem for the desert 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, on the banks of the Dead Sea. The hundreds of manuscripts that survived, partially or in full, in caves near the site, have shed light on the development of the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Christianity.

The most complete scrolls are held by the Israel Museum, with more pieces and smaller fragments found in other institutions and private collections. Tens of thousands of fragments from 900 Dead Sea manuscripts are held by the Antiquities Authority, which has separately begun its own project to put them online in conjunction with .

Photography work on the project began earlier this month in conjunction with a former NASA scientist. An advanced $250,000 camera developed in Santa Barbara, California allows researchers to discern words and other details not visible to the naked eye.

The latest photography effort by two technicians is centered on a fragment of a manuscript known as the Thanksgiving Scroll. On a computer screen was a piece of the Apocryphon of Daniel, an Aramaic text that includes a verse referring to a figure who "will be called the son of God." The first fragments of that will be online by the end of the year.

The Antiquities Authority project, aimed chiefly at scholars, is tentatively set to be complete by 2016, at which point nearly all of the scrolls will be available on the Internet.

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More information: dss.collections.imj.org.il/

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TopherTO
3 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2011
A bit short on details in this article. The scrolls were actually found in what is now the West Bank and only came to Israel after the Six Day war.
ralbol
3.6 / 5 (14) Sep 26, 2011
Now, as a record of the tales and legends of a sheep pushing tribe living 2000 years ago, these scrolls are interesting.

As any kind of proof of "divine" deeds of daring do... this is pathetic.

With this kind of attitude, in 2000 years, Frodo the Hobbit will be The Son of Bilbo, The Finder of the Ring and Killer of Sauron.
freethinking
1.8 / 5 (10) Sep 26, 2011
ralbol, I'm sorry you are so ignorant of Israel's history, and the history of the bible. My guess is, there will be thousands of different stories about Frodo, most differing significantly from one another. What you need to do is research how well preserved the words of the bible are. A good place to start learning about how the bible was written is Josh McDowell, Evidence that demands a verdict.
aroc91
5 / 5 (3) Sep 26, 2011
Now, as a record of the tales and legends of a sheep pushing tribe living 2000 years ago, these scrolls are interesting.

As any kind of proof of "divine" deeds of daring do... this is pathetic.

With this kind of attitude, in 2000 years, Frodo the Hobbit will be The Son of Bilbo, The Finder of the Ring and Killer of Sauron.


Frodo wasn't Bilbo's son.
David_Wishengrad
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2011
No need to wail until 2016. The scrolls say Jesus was vegetarian. FYI.
Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 27, 2011
ralbol, I'm sorry you are so ignorant of Israel's history, and the history of the bible. My guess is, there will be thousands of different stories about Frodo, most differing significantly from one another. What you need to do is research how well preserved the words of the bible are. A good place to start learning about how the bible was written is Josh McDowell, Evidence that demands a verdict.


Well, I'll slightly disagree with the claim.

I don't know how well the words are preserved within the same language, but what I do know is that just something as simple as the 23rd psalm definitely "loses something" from it's oldest known Hebrew and Greek versions when translated to english. The text has almost a completely different meaning and context compared to the oldest existing english versions, or even modernized english versions.

Then you have to consider Hebrew was a dead language for some time, and do the words mean the same thing exactly? Probably not...
Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 27, 2011
Addtionally, at least in the oldest greek texts, it's clear that the scholars making them disagreed on translations from Hebrew to Greek even at the time, as some of the texts actually have words scratched out and replaced with alternate translations. Considering there were differences of translation among the scribes and church leaders who were writing these manuscripts, even that far back in time when both languages were closer to their roots, then getting exact translations into modern languages is probably not even possible in some cases.
Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 27, 2011
Finally, even if you could argue that the "words" of the Bible are preserved perfectly, that' doesn't prove historical or prophetic accuracy, and it doesn't prove inspiration or infallibility.

I don't believe the Bible is infallible, and I doubt most, if any of it, was inspired.

I believe Samuel was a false prophet, or at least, what was WRITTEN about Samuel, Saul, and David is false; because I cannot imagine that the real God would order anyone to kill an entire city as punishment for crimes commited ten generations earlier, and particularly to kill even the "infant and sucklings" and "spare noone". I used to try to argue that God must somehow know they all "deserved" to die, but I have come to realize that is ridiculous, particularly since the text claims the alleged "charges" of this massacre was because of what Amalek did to Israel in the wilderness, but again, that was some 200 years earlier.
Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 27, 2011
And so, because you cannot trust the accuracy or validity of 1 or 2 Samuel, this means that every book thereafter which refers to Samuel or David as prophets, or which quotes or paraphrases from these books is at best polluted through some form of human error, or at worst, also a forgery.

Another problem is that the Bible itself in Kings and Chronicles records an incident where at least one book of the Torah, being Deuteronomy, was apparantly lost and then later allegedly "found" in the temple. Anybody supporting the new priest and new king could have forged the existing book of Deuteronomy at this time as a replacement of the "original", as it is mighty convenient that they just so happened to "find" the missing book of the law right after the new King took office, and then used it as an excuse to massacre all the "evil" political and religious enemies. You can see this story in 2 Kings 22 and 23.
Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 27, 2011
For example, to show an obvious Biblical inconsistency, suggesting at least some of the existing books are forgeries, we can show these passages.

The gist of Ezekiel 18 claims that God does not punish the father for the son's sins, and vice versa.

But in 1 Samuel 15:3, Samuel, allegedly speaking for God, tells Saul this:

"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

This is a clear contradiction of other parts of the Bible internally, and it is a clear contradiction of the obvious notion of "conscience" that no infant or suckling could possibly be guilty of a death sentence, even if all the adults actually were guilty.

So this incident contradicts other books clearly, and is an obvious religious excuse for a massacre, perhaps used as propaganda to solidify religious and political support from any "moderates" who were in Israel. Liberals were executed.
Nanobanano
4 / 5 (11) Sep 27, 2011
Another glaring inconsistency I found "by accident" is the striking contradiction between promises supposedly made by God in Genesis, vs the Apocalypse, supposedly given to John by God.

In Genesis 8 and 9, God makes the same basic promise two different ways.

One, in chapter 9 he promises he'd never destroy the earth, nor living things with a flood (specifically). I'm sure any sunday school teacher would remember this, but what they DON'T actually talk about is the STRONGER promise, allegedly made at the end of chapter 8...

"I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake...Neither will I again smite every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime, harvest, cold, heat, summer, winter, day, and night shall not cease..."

This is clearly contradicted by the entire book of revelation, which claims God is going to spend 7 years breaking all of these promises and massacring almost everyone with famine, plagues, firestorms, and perpetual darkness.
Nanobanano
3.8 / 5 (10) Sep 27, 2011
Clearly, the books of the Bible are AT BEST inaccurate transcriptions and translations of whatever books originally existed, and at worst just outright forgeries.

Either way, they are not consistent from one generation to the next nor from one author to the next.
Nanobanano
3.6 / 5 (8) Sep 27, 2011
Finally, Jesus, The Apostle Paul and the Apostle James all have a completely different doctrine of salvation.

You would think that since Salvation is almost certainly the most important topic in the Bible, you'd think all the authors could at least agree on that, but they do not.

James teaches that faith alone cannot save anyone, but only GOOD WORKS. Moreover, the INTENTION of the good works seems to matter, since Rahab is excused of the "sin" of lying when she hides the spies, because her "work" and "intent" is to save life*.

Paul teaches that works can neither save a person, nor add anything to their salvation, but salvation comes only through faith "without the works of the law."

But Jesus disagrees with Paul, and says,

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

See also Jeremiah 25:14, Matthew 16:27, and Rev. 2:23*

All of which directly contradict Paul...
Pyle
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2011
Wow! You really are coming around! Despite the rapid fire posts, I rather enjoyed that. Good on you again.

Regarding the scrolls going online. Every book ever written should be digitized and be stored redundantly so that we never lose what we have accomplished. How great would it be to truly have the entire wealth of human intellect available to everyone on the planet on demand?
stealthc
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2011
If you believe in this fake religion stuff then I've got a unicorn and a fairy for sale, would you like to buy it?
Nanobanano
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2011
If you believe in this fake religion stuff then I've got a unicorn and a fairy for sale, would you like to buy it?


Well,it's a big stretch to go from saying, "I believe in God," to claiming, "This book written by a man claiming to speak for God is definitely inspired and infallible."

"Hearing from God" and "Hearing from a man CLAIMING to hear from God" are also two very, very different things.

I don't believe televangelists or even local pastors hear from God for real, because none of them do anything different other than to use their offce to raise obscene amounts of money to make television and radio stations and megachurches and pad their own pockets, all so they can "spread the gospel" and pretty much not teach anything that wasn't already known (and either accepted or rejected) to begin with.

It is ironic that Moses turned down the offerings in the wilderness when enough was given, allegedly, but nearly every preacher since then does nothing but cry for money.
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2011
Well,it's a big stretch to go from saying, "I believe in God," to claiming, "This book written by a man claiming to speak for God is definitely inspired and infallible."
Not really that big a stretch actually. You just need to understand the reasons people WANT to believe any of this stuff. As long as you have that firmly in mind when proclaiming faith in a sky fairy then I suppose it is OK. There are plenty enough things we don't understand to allow for reasonable belief in a deity.

But back to the online scrolls. Very cool. I didn't go on about the translation tools yet. They're awesome too. Again, all human intellectual wealth available and accessible to everyone. Yippee!
jypsy
3 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2011
If Christianity was founded on the principles of openness and the destruction of fear, then those documents should have been released immediately upon discovery and every last word should have been disclosed online at least in raw text form, the very second Internet technology was able to do so.
Hev
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2011
good for defence/attack when gloomy religious zombies call at your door - as they usually are banned free use of the internet so you can talk them into a greater stupor and twisted brain for ages with this -
previously I had to send my husband to the door dressed only in his nightshirt -
Skepticus
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 01, 2011
Good argument Nano. The Chinese has a saying " copying 3 times, end up with 7 versions"

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