03 June 2011

Final Report


This final blog will be a summary of all my researches, in this page you will find in synthesis of all the information collected and posted in the previous pages. This is an overview about my findings on the  Dead Sea Scrolls.
Discovery
Year 1947, in a desolated land called Qumran, between the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea, a Bedouin,  Muhammed edh-Dhib,  “The Wolf” is looking for his lost goat. He is throwing stones into the caves to check the presence of the lost animal. In doing this he hears a sound of breaking  jars. Moved by curiosity he found, at the bottom of the cave, different jars containing ancient texts: The Dead sea Scrolls.
Between 1947 and 1956 Qumran has been the most important archaeological site of the world . In this period a collection of 972 ancient texts in 11 different caves has been found. The majority of them are made of parchment or papyrus, mainly written in Hebrew and Aramaic and few in Greek.  The Scrolls have been analysed by many scholars and organizations, such us the university of California using sophisticated techniques like Cyclotron to demonstrate their authenticity. Studies have been able to date the Scrolls between the 150 BCE and 70 CE.

Content
We can classify the content of the Scrolls in three different categories:
40%  Biblical: texts from the Hebrew Bible
30%  Apocryphal: or non-bible texts with documents not canonized in the Hebrew bible.
30%  Sectarian: previously unknown documents about beliefs and rules of a particular group such us “Community Rule”, “Rule of Blessing” and “War Rule”.
Among the Biblical texts we find:

39 Psalms  
33 Deuteronomy  
25 1 Enoch  
24 Genesis
22 Isaiah
21 Jubilees
18 Exodus  
17 Leviticus  
11 Numbers  
10 Minor Prophets  
8  Daniel  
6  Jeremiah
6  Ezekiel  
6  Job 6
4  1 & 2 Samuel








 Who wrote them?
Many theories have been supported by the scholars to find the authors of the most  ancient texts ever discovered. Here is the list of the most significant:

The Essene Theory
This is the prevailing theory. The presence of sectarian texts led Scholars to assume that the Scrolls were written by a sectarian Hebrew group, who decided to establish in Qumran to escape a kind of persecution.  Biblical Scholars Roland GuĂ©rin de Vaux and  Jozef Tadeusz Milik , affirm that this sect were the Essene that escaping from the Maccabees dominace, decided to leave Jerusalem and to settle in Qumran. Many similarities between the community described in the Sea Scrolls and our knowledge of the Essene people has brought to consider that the Essene Theory was the most trustable hypothesis among all the others.





The Sadducean Theory
Not all scholars agree with Milik and de Vaux. New York University professor of Jewish and Hebraic studies Lawrence Schiffman belives that this sect was in reality the Sadducee. Schiffman bases his theory on the "Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah" Scroll which is identical to the Sudducee laws and which also include a festival calendar according to the Sadducee festival days.

Jerusalem Origin Theory
Others Scholars like Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, affirm that the scrolls were the product of Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The Christian Origin Theory
I have dedicated an entire post to this theory because it has generated a lot of controversies throughout the years. This hypothesis assumes that there is a connection between the Scrolls and the beginning  of Christianity. It can also change all the certainties we have about the history of Christianity, including the historical time of its origin.
Michael Wise, Assistant Professor of Aramaic  in the Department of Near Eastern Languages at the University of Chicago and Robert Eisenman of the Department of Religious Studies at State University of California, have tried to connect Christianity to the Scrolls, referring to the quotations about the Messiah found in the Scrolls.  Particularly in Isaiah we have the description of the Man of sorrow, which is talking about Christ’s passion.
In fact about 20% of the scrolls were soon published, but the remainder were held out for 35 years, this gave  some scholars the impression  that important truths were hidden in the Scrolls, so important that the Vatican was trying to avoid the publication.
This Theory was very soon declared false, when the Scrolls were finally published, and at the end the  Scholars arrived to the conclusion that there is nothing in the scrolls to show that Christianity came from Qumran.
The connection showed with Isaiah in fact is part of the old testament which is dated thousand  years  before Christ, and it is the prophecy of the Messiah. The word “Jesus” and other elements of his life, that could support the idea that the community of Qumran has known Jesus Christ, are not present in the Scrolls.





The Mystery of the Copper Scrolls
One Scroll, among all the 900 texts  found in Qumran, is unique for many reason: It’s not made of parchment or papyrus but of metal: Copper!  It’s not written in usual Hebrew but in a different dialect, the Mishnaic Hebrew.  The content is also unique: it is not Bible texts and not sectarian rules.
It is a the oldest treasure map ever found. A list of 64 locations hiding gold, silver and precious priest garment. 
There is also the anomaly that seven of the location names are followed by a group of two or three Greek letters. Scholars have connected this particularity of the Scroll with Greek inventory, using similar “cataloguing” methods at the Greek Temple of Apollo. This similarity to the Greek inventories, would suggest that this scroll is in fact an authentic "temple inventory."
Some of the places mentioned in the scroll are easy to locate in  a modern map: Jericho, the valley of Achor and Mt Gerizim still exist, but many of the hiding place are no longer present on the map and  are very difficult to locate. The Salomon Canal, the well of Milham and Matia’s courtyard are hiding gold garments and treasures but there is no idea where they could be. 
Scholars have estimated in 1960 that the total value of all the gold and precious items present in the list would top $1,000,000 U.S.
The last sentence  of the Copper Scroll is an enigma inside the enigma:
“In a dry well at Kohlit… a copy of this document with its explanation … and an inventory of each and everything”
There is another Scroll, lost somewhere, that can explain the Copper one and provide more information about the immense treasure described on it.


Conclusion

It has been really interesting to explore the mystery of the Dead sea Scrolls, one of the most important archaeological findings of the History. Their value is as immense as a document of 2000 years ago,  and it is a sight to the past. But as University of North Carolina archaeologist Jodi Magness, said: “there are more interpretations than data” and Schiffman added: ”Popular books with new theories about Qumran sell”.
 Sometime in order to find new different theories and hypothesis, scholars have lost the richness of the documents themselves and have created controversies and business.   
The only thing that the adversaries seem to agree on is “Money is root of every problem”.  It must be written in some passages of the Scrolls!






Reference
‘Copper Scroll’ [image] Saint Paul’s Church Milwaukee, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
‘Manuscript’ [image] CNRS International Magazine, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
‘Who Wrote the Scrolls’, Maxwell Institute, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
Copper Scroll Project Jerusalem Post Article, The Copper Scroll Project, viewed 1 Jun 2011,
‘Christ the Lifegiver’ Logoi, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
‘Copper Scroll’ [image] San Diego Jewish World, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
Isrealarchaeology 2010, The Dead Sea Scrolls Conspiracy Theory, viewed 24 May 2011,

Greyshark09 2009, National Geographic - Riddles of the Bible: Dead Sea Scrolls 1/5, viewed 23 May 2011,
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcCusw7qhgI&feature=related>

The Mystery of the Copper Scroll




Among all the Scrolls found in Qumran, more than 900 documents,  there is an anomaly, and unique scroll, different from all the others. It is made from different materials, the language in which it is written is not the same as the rest of the scrolls and even its content, is not related to all the other texts.  Professor Richard Freund said this is  "probably the most unique, the most important, and the least understood among all the Scrolls” . For this, it deserves a separate post!  
This is the Copper Scroll!
We have already said that the majority of the Scrolls was found by Bedouins. The copper scroll instead was discovered by an expedition sponsored by the Jordan Department of Antiquities. It is March 14th , 1952, when an archaeologist,  exploring Cave 3 at Qumran, found 15 new scrolls. The last one discovered that day, struck the attention of the archaeologist. In fact while all the others were made of parchment or papyrus, this scroll was written on metal: copper.

The discovery
When it was found, it was in two parts. Apparently when the scroll was being rolled up, the thin copper sheet snapped into two sections. After almost two-thousand years in the cave, the document was so badly oxidized that it would crumble if anyone attempted to open it. It was immediately clear that the corroded metal could not be unrolled by conventional means. Even while it was still wound up, though, it became apparent to scholars studying, what little text could be seen, that the scroll was hiding a sensational discovery: a list of treasures!
A 2000 years old treasure map was in the hands of scholars and archaeologists but they couldn’t open it without the risk of breaking the scroll and lose the document! What seemed to be an Indiana Jones movie adventure, was instead the real problem of scholar John Marco Allegro. After 5 years of discussions and debates on which method to use in order to preserve the manuscript from harm,  finally Allegro sent the Copper Scroll to  Manchester College of Technology in England  where Professor H. Wright Baker decided to cut the document into 23 strips.
 Allegro supervised the opening of the scroll and transcribed its contents immediately.

The Language
The first difference to be noticed was the language: different from other scrolls, but more similar to the Mishnaic Hebrew than the usual Hebrew. The orthography, with  an unusual style of writing was also not common, probably due to the fact that the author was writing  on the copper using a hammer and chisels. There is also the anomaly that seven of the location names are followed by a group of two or three Greek letters. Scholars have connected this particularity of the Scroll with Greek inventory, using similar “cataloguing” methods at the Greek Temple of Apollo. This similarity to the Greek inventories, would suggest that this scroll is in fact an authentic "temple inventory."
The translation of the scroll has been really difficult and it is still open to many interpretations.  This connection to the Greek world, and several anomalies in the writing, suggested that maybe the author of the copper roll was an  illiterate scribe who did not speak the language in which the scroll was written, or at least was not well familiar with. We can assume that the writer was recreating another copy of the scroll.  As Professor Milik said:  “The scribe uses the forms and ligature of the cursive script along with formal letters, and often confuses graphically several letters of the formal hand." As a result, the full meaning of the text is still a mystery.

The Contents
“In the fortress which is in the Vale of Achor, forty cubits under the steps entering to the east: a money chest and it […] contents, of a weight of seventeen talents."
Who could resist to the tentation to live everything and go in search of the lost treasure after reading a sentence like this one, in an 2000 years old scroll?
The document is fascinating, and it is composed of 64 bullets, each pointing to a location where the treasure might be located.
The following is an English translation of other texts:
In the court of [unreadable], nine cubits under the southern corner: gold and silver vessels for tithe, sprinkling basins, cups, sacrificial bowls, libations vessels; in all, six hundred and nine.
In the cave that is next to [unreadable] belonging to the House of Hakkoz, dig six cubits. There are six bars of gold.
Some of the places mentioned in the scroll are easy to locate in  a modern map: Jericho, the valley of Achor and Mt Gerizim still exist and the treasure described consists of vast quantities of gold and silver, as well as many coins and vessels. It is difficult to assess the value of what is described, since we are not sure what the weights in the scroll are actually equivalent to, but it was estimated in 1960 that the total would top $1,000,000 U.S.
Before you decide to send a resignation mail to your boss, and to buy a ticket for the middle east playing the explorer, I have to tell you that many of the hiding place don’t exist anymore or are very difficult to locate. The Salomon Canal, the well of Milham and Matia’s courtyard are hiding gold garments and treasures but there is no idea where they could be.  





The last sentence  
On the Internet  the mystery and the charm of the Copper scroll is amplified in many web pages and sites. One particularly interesting website  is the Copper Scroll web Project, where you can find more information, newsletters and articles about this copper treasure map.
The last sentence of the Copper Scroll is legendary.
“In a dry well at Kohlit… a copy of this document with its explanation … and an inventory of each and everything”
There is another Scroll, lost somewhere, that can explain the Copper one and provide more information about the immense treasure described on it.
Who wants to be the new Indiana Jones?



Reference
    
The Mysterious treasure of the Copper Scroll, The Unmuseum, viewed 1 Jun 2011,
Copper Scroll Project Jerusalem Post Article, The Copper Scroll Project, viewed 1 Jun 2011,
Copper Scroll, West Semitic Research Project, viewed 2 Jun 2011,
aboumyriam2000, 2008, The Mystery of the Copper Scroll, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
Kohn Levitt, R 2008, Ancient copper scroll: wild goose chase or golden ticket?,  San Diego Natura History Museum, viewed 2 Jun 2011,
Frequently Asked Question, The Orion Center for the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls,  viewed 3 Jun 2011,
John Marco Allegro, Wikipedia, viewed 3 Jun 2011, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Marco_Allegro>
25 fascinating facts Dead sea scrolls, CenturyOne BookStore, viewed 2 Jun 2011. <http://www.centuryone.com/25dssfacts.html>
‘Copper Scroll’ [image] San Diego Jewish World, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
‘Copper Scroll’ [image] The Dead Sea Scrolls controversy in San Diego, viewed 3 Jun 2011,
‘The Scroll Cut’ [image] The Copper Scroll Project,  viewed 3 Jun 2011,
<http://www.copper-scroll-project.com/>

30 May 2011

The Scrolls and the Christian Origin Theory


In the previous post we have seen how many different interpretations have been developed about the Scrolls origin. In this post we are going to analyse the Christian origin theory according to which, there is a specific relation between the Scrolls and the beginning  of Christianity.
If proved, this theory could change many certainties we have about the history of Christianity, including the historical time of his origin.
As we have seen in previous posts there are many books of the Old Testament present in the Scrolls, but no one about the New Testament. Therefore, no Gospel and no Apostles Letters.  

The Messiah

The word “Jesus” is never mentioned in the texts, as is never mentioned in any other document of the first Century. But as Florida International University scholar Erik Larson has noted, the scrolls have "helped us understand better in what ways Jesus' messages represented ideas that were current in the Judaism of his time and in what ways they were distinctive." One scroll, for example, mentions a messianic figure who is called both the "Son of God" and the "Son of the Most High." Many theologians had speculated that the phrase "Son of God" was adopted by early Christians after Jesus' crucifixion, in contrast to the pagan worship of the Roman emperors. But the appearance of the phrase in the scrolls indicates the term was already in use when Jesus was preaching his gospel.
In the Scrolls is present instead the word Christ, from the Greek “Christos” that means “the anointed” (the elected) from the Hebraic word “Mashiah”.  
Michael Wise, Assistant Professor of Aramaic  in the Department of Near Eastern Languages at the University of Chicago and Robert Eisenman of the Department of Religious Studies at State University of California at Long Beach, tried to give an answer to this enigma.

The Conspiracy Theory
The most important Cave for our purposes was Cave 4, discovered in 1954. About 20% of the scrolls were soon published, but the remainder were held out for 35 years.
For this reason some Scholars began to think that the content of these Scrolls had dangerous revelations about the Christianity and for that they were keep under censorship by the Vatican.
 W. F. Albright, a rightly esteemed scholar, did not say it openly, but left the impression at a meeting of the American Philological Association in Washington, that the scrolls might damage Christianity.
John Allegro, member of the Scroll Team, wrote a letter to  John Strugnell, at the time chief editor in charge of the scrolls, who was considering becoming Catholic saying: "By the time I've finished there won't be any Church left for you to join". But he was an avowed agnostic. His book, The Sacred Mushroom, said Jesus never really existed, he was only an image developed by Christians under the influence of a hallucinating drug, psilocybin. Fourteen prominent British scholars repudiated Allegro's book in the London Times. The publisher then apologized for publishing the book.
Not only,  Hershel Shanks commented that now the scrolls have been released, with much help from Catholic scholars, it was "without the slightest shake of or shock to the church's foundations."
This case is similar to another attempt to discredit the Catholic Church: The “Da Vinci Code” book. It’s enough to invent strange hypothesis, usually with no evidence, and with the intention of giving the idea that the Church has  cheated you all this years, to sell millions of books and to earn a fortune.
Here I found a rare interview of former editor in Chief Prof John Strugnell and Fr O’connors  that openly declare that The Vatican is not afraid and has not reason to stop any archaeological research.





The Conspiracy Theory was clearly false, let us go back to our investigation about connections between the Scrolls and the Christianity.




Scholar studing the Scrolls
 


The Theory of Eisenman and Wise is based on three exhibits:
1)      They compare the text found in the scrolls (4Q521) “The Messiah of Heaven and Earth” with   lines 8 & 12 to the NT passage which cites Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted”.
My opinion about these thought is: It’s true that 4Q521 and the gospel are similar, but both comes from a common source which is Isaiah 61. Book that has been wrote before Christianity.

2)      The Pierced Messiah text: 4Q285
This text does not use the word Messiah at all, but Eisenman and Wise assume that the word nasi, leader, means the same. But the trouble is that this text is very ambiguous, as all admit.
In fact in Hebrew only the consonants are written, not the vowels. According to the vowels you add, you can change the meaning of the word. In this case the sentence could be “they executed the nasi”  (The pierced Messiah) or  “the nasi would kill another male person”.
Even considering this Hypothesis, I think we don’t have enough evidences to reconsider the Christianity origin. Too many possible interpretations and doubts about the translation.
3)      Works-Righteousness Texts: These three texts speak of justification by works, which Eisenman and Wise claim is the mirror image of what Paul teaches.
Because Paul says  “He will repay each on according to his works” and seems that the justification comes only from the works and not from the Grace.  But Paul is fully in accord with Jesus. In fact  when the Judaizers said: “Jesus is not enough, you need the law too”. Paul reacted by saying: "You are free from the law". He meant that keeping the law does not earn salvation,  but you need  the Grace of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Which is not mentioned in the Works-Righteousness text.
At the end many Scholars arrived to the conclusion that there is nothing in the scrolls to show Christianity came from Qumran or even is closely identical with it.

Reference

       Thy thora is emet 2010, Hebrew language study resources, viewed 24 May 2011,
       http://www.sa-hebroots.com/hebrew_language_study_resources.php

      Isrealarchaeology 2010, The Dead Sea Scrolls Conspiracy Theory, viewed 24 May 2011,
Most, W 1999, Dead sea scrolls: threat to Christianity?, Global Catholic Television Network  viewed 24 May 2011,
 Lawler, A 2010, 'Who wrote the dead sea scrolls?', Smithsonian, Vol.40 Issue 10, pp 40-47, Australia/New Zealand Reference, Ebscohost, viewed 24 May 2011.
'Christ' [image], digilander, viewed 24 May 2011,
'Scholar studing the Scrolls' [image], New shawker, viewed 24 May 2011,

Note:
For this post I searched using Databases, Libraries Australia, Ulrich, Web Search Engine and Ebscohost.

24 May 2011

Who wrote the Scrolls?


To find out the origin of the Scrolls, and most of all, who the authors of these ancient texts are,  is a fundamental issue for a complete understanding of  the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

No one has doubts about the authenticity of the Scrolls but many theories, hypothesis and interpretations arose throughout the years about their origins and  their authors.
If you  have the chance to visit Qumran, the place of the discovery, you will certainly notice that is a quiet, deserted and desolated area.  Instead for Risa Levitt Khon,   who curated an exhibit about the Dead Sea Scrolls in San Diego in 2007, Qumran is “an enigmatic and confusing site, a powder keg among normally placid scholars” and  it must be  true if you consider that Qumran has prompted bitter feuds and even a recent criminal investigation.
The reason of all these controversies among  scholars and archaeologists is found in the question of the authorship, that has implications for understanding the history of both Judaism and Christianity.

The Essene Theory
It is important now to give an historical view  to our research.
In the 164 B.C. a group of Jewish dissidents, the Maccabees, overthrew the Seleucid Empire that ruled Judea. The Maccabees established an independent kingdom and, in so doing, tossed out the priestly class that had controlled the temple in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon. 

Lawrence H. Schiffman
Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies
 
In relation of this event, the theory of New York University professor of Jewish and Hebraic studies Lawrence Schiffman  is that the Scrolls were written by one of the many rival sects, which were fighting against Maccabees dominance. Schiffman affirms: “While some sects were accommodating themselves to the new order in various ways, the Dead Sea group decided it had to leave Jerusalem altogether in order to continue its unique way of life."

Many scholars identify this sect with the Essenes and James Charlesworth, a scrolls scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary declare: “the Scrolls disclose the context of Jesus' life and message and John the Baptizer probably learned from the Qumran Essenes, though he was no Essene”. 


Charlesworth supports this theory referring to the  beliefs and practices of the Qumran Essenes as described in the scrolls, vows of poverty, baptismal rituals and communal meals.
Here is the explanation of Essene Theory according National Geographic web site:



If we agree with Charlesworth a question immediately arises: Was Qumran centre  the first Christian monastery where the community was living according to the vows described into the Scrolls and after in the Gospel?
The conclusion of this historical mystery is not so simple.
In fact if the Essenes were the authors of the texts, why the word “Essene” is never mentioned in any of the Scrolls? And why some of them are written in sophisticated Greek rather than a prosaic form of Aramaic or Hebrew that would be expected from a community of ascetics in the Judean desert?

 The Sadducees Theory
Probably  the question of who wrote the scrolls, is more likely to be resolved by archaeologists scrutinizing Qumran's every physical remnant than by scholars poring over the texts.
In fact there is another important event that had a huge impact in the Jewhis History: The destruction of the Temple by the Romans.  The Jerusalem Temple for the Hebrews is more than a Synagogue, more than a place where people pray. It is the pride of the nation, the symbol of an entire culture, and to destroy  it, is the equivalent of destroying a people. After such catastrophe the Hebrews had no place where to gather, no identity, and they were spread everywhere.
Consequently one of the theories says that the scrolls did not originate at Qumran but some Judeans brought the scrolls there, in order to save them from the Roman’s fury, before  the destruction of the temple in A.D. 68.
Schiffman brings also the hypothesis of the Sadducees. A religious community of scribes based on Qumran. This could explain the variety of religious texts, and rejects the “Essene theory”.

Reasons of controversity
The Qumran controversy took a bizarre turn, when Golb's son, Raphael, was arrested on charges of identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment. In a statement, the New York District Attorney's office says that Raphael "engaged in a systematic scheme on the Internet, using dozens of Internet aliases, in order to influence and affect debate on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in order to harass Dead Sea Scrolls scholars" who disputed his father's findings. The alleged target was Golb's old rival, Schiffman.

Many scholars with many different theories fighting each other’s,  Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina said: “there are more interpretations than data” and Schiffman added: ”Popular books with new theories about Qumran sell” Even jurisdiction over Qumran is a source of contention. The site is located on the West Bank, where Palestinians and some Israeli archaeologists say that Peleg's excavations are illegal under international law.
The only thing that the adversaries seem to agree on is “Money is root of every problem”.  It must be written in some passages of the Scrolls!

Reference
'Risa Levitt Khon' [image], Royal Ontario Museum, viewed 23 May 2011, 
<http://www.rom.on.ca/ecommunications/letsrom/200912_december2009_letsrom.html> 
'Lawrence H. Schiffman' [image], The Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, viewed 23 May 2011, http://hebrewjudaic.as.nyu.edu/object/lawrenceschiffman.html>
Schiffman, LH 2006, The dead sea scrolls, Biblical Archealogy Society, Atlanta, GA.
Lawler, A 2010, 'Who wrote the dead sea scrolls?', Smithsonian, Vol.40 Issue 10, pp 40-47, Australia/New Zealand Reference, Ebscohost, viewed 24 May 2011.
Greyshark09 2009, National Geographic - Riddles of the Bible: Dead Sea Scrolls 1/5, viewed 23 May 2011,

Note
For this blog I used Trove, Ebscohost, Articles, web search engines and books.
There are a lots of materials about the Dead Sea Scrolls, specially on the Internet the only issue I had is to find something trustable, authorized references. Therefore I based my research on Professors and theological Scholars works, and official website, such National Geographic web site. 


 
   



08 May 2011

The Discovery



We are in the year 1947, the place is a desolate land between the hills of the Judean desert and the flats of the north shore of the Dead Sea.  This place is called Qumran,  very close to Jerusalem, the heart of Israel.    This area is mostly populated by Bedouins, that according to their nomad culture, they move their villages looking for better pastures.


Muhammed "The Wolf"

Our men are the Bedouin   Muhammed edh-Dhib, called “The Wolf” and his cousin Jum’a Muhammed. In this winter day of the 1947 they are very agitated, per lustrating the area of Qumran. They have lost a goat, and for Bedouins to lose a goat means to lose food and richness. They are looking everywhere and Muhammed “The Wolf” decides to enter in an abandoned old cave, to check if the goat is hidden inside.
He couldn’t find the stray goat, but came back with an old jar. Never has the loss of a goat been so fruitful.
Inside the jar in fact, he found three ancient manuscripts, what we call today “The Dead Sea Scrolls”.He then returned to his nomad tent camp to show the discovery to the other Bedouins. He had in his hands the Complete Isaiah Scroll, the Manual of Discipline and the Habakkuk Commentary, one of   the oldest written documents in the history of mankind, since we can collocate them between 220 B.C. and 68 A.C.  Muhammed edh-Dhib,  “The Wolf”, had  no a complete  understanding of the sensational importance and value of the texts discovered. They tried to sell the scroll to the local market, and at the beginning they found difficulties in doing this as  dealers thought that the scrolls were been stolen from synagogues.  Probably Bedouins had a very bad reputation.



First negotations of the Scrolls
After several months they offered the Scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, "Kando," a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer. Kando took a scroll for himself and was able to sell three of them to a dealer for the unbelievable prize of £7 GBP ($29 in 2003 US dollars)!!!!
Kando and the Bedouins went back to the discovery site and they found other scrolls in 11 different caves. At this point someone realised the priceless value of these manuscripts. The Metropolitan Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church wanted to examine them and, understanding their antiquity, he managed to buy four of them:  Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher (a commentary on the book of Habakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon.
Other three rolls soon appeared in the antiquates market and Israeli archaeologists at Hebrew University, Professor Eleazer Sukenik and Professor Benjamin Mazar, were able to purchase them.

At this stage the entire world has understood the immense value of the Scrolls. The University of California did analyse the Scroll with sophisticated tests and  attested their  authenticity. Many organizations and museums  wanted to buy them, trying to reunite the collection by purchasing them  from the different owners, but no one  succeeded. Now the price went up dramatically and it was even difficult to estimate them.



"Scrolls on Sale"
On the 1st of June 1954, the Wall Street Journal of New York had a very unusual advertisement: “Dead Sea Scrolls on sale”! After a month, and most of all, after a delicate negotiation, they were sold for  US$250,000 ($2.04 million in present-day terms). The buyers were Prof. Mazar and the son of Prof. Sukenik Yigael Yadin and they brought the Scrolls to Jerusalem, where they were on display at the Rockefeller Museum. After the Six-Day War, they were moved to the Shrine of the Book, where you can find them today.


Reference
Davies, PR, Dead Sea Scrolls, Encyclopaedia Britannica, viewed 6 May 2011,
Learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls, All about Archaeology, viewed 7 May 2011,  <http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/qumran-caves-faq.htm>
The Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, West Semitic Research Project, viewed 7 May 2011,
‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ 2011, Wikipedia, viewed 6 May 2011,

Images Taken from “All About Archaeology”, published by AllAboutGOD.com Ministries, M. Houdmann, P. Matthews-Rose, R. Niles, editors, 2002-2011. Used by permission."
‘qumran-cave-1952-1’ [image], All about Archaeology, viewed 6 May 2001,

02 April 2011

What are they?


Interesting question! What is a Scroll? It is the ancestor of the book, the progenitor of all the books we read, the first expression of collecting information in an organized set of pages.  The Scroll  is written on such a roll as of parchment or papyrus or paper. It is usually written, drawn or painted with the purpose to transmit information but can be also used as a decorative item.

How can I read them?
A scroll is usually divided up into pages, which are sometimes separate sheets of papyrus glued together at the edges, or may be marked divisions of a continuous roll of writing material. The scroll is usually unrolled so that one page is exposed at a time, for writing or reading, with the remaining pages rolled up to the left and right of the visible page. In order to “navigate’ the roll we have to unroll one side and roll the other and by doing this, the visible page will slide and change to the next, according to the direction given, towards the end or towards the beginning.
Some scrolls are simply rolled up pages; others may have wooden rollers on each end. This will help the reading. It is enough to grab the wooden rollers and roll them in the direction we like, to slide the pages and read the scroll.

How are they written?
If you think that the only way of writing is from left side to the right one , as we usually do, you may be surprised! The characteristic of the Arabic languages  is to write from right to left, because of the origin of their language, influenced by the Phoenicians. In fact, the first alphabet ever, written by the Phoenicians, had this letters’ disposition: from right to left. Then the Greek preferred to write in the opposite way, from left to right, and this is the way we write today.
The scrolls therefore are written from right to left, in lines from top to bottom. The first page is the one that we consider the last in our books.
Just for our curiosity, there are other ways of writing: for instance the Korean, the old Egyptian, the  Japanese and the Chinese languages are not only written from right to left but the disposition of the words is not in horizontal lines but in vertical columns, from the top to the bottom. If you find any civilization that use to write in other different ways just add a comment and let me know.

Random Word
There is another thing about the rolls that I want to share with you in this post.
In the Judeo-Christian religion tradition, there is the use, when praying, to open up the book to a random page. A random passage of the gospel, for instance, to begin the day. It is a way to see what is the word that Lord will give us today to guide our steps. With the modern Bible, you just “cut” the book and you have a random page. And with the Scroll? The technique is different, but the result is the same.
We grab the wooden rollers and we roll left and right as much as we like. The exposed page that we will have at the end of our rolling, is the random word for us.

Reference

'Scrolls', The freedictionary, Farlex Inc., viewed 2 April 2011,
<http://www.thefreedictionary.com/scroll>

'Scrolls' 2011, Wikipedia, viewed 2 April 2011,

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scroll>


'A medieval Hebrew Bible scroll containing the Masoretic Text' [image] Classic this lamp, viewed 2 April 2011,

 <http://homepage.mac.com/rmansfield/thislamp/files/c0d3b1cc2e008f06da7930762f25a44d-37.html>