Scanning software deciphers ancient biblical scroll


**JERUSALEM (AP) — The charred lump of a 2,000-year-old scroll sat in an Israeli archaeologist’s storeroom for decades, too brittle to open. Now, new imaging technology has revealed what was written inside: the earliest evidence of a biblical text in its standardized form.

The passages from the Book of Leviticus, scholars say, offer the first physical evidence of what has long been believed: that the version of the Hebrew Bible used today goes back 2,000 years.

The discovery, announced in a Science Advances journal article by researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem on Wednesday, was made using “virtual unwrapping,” a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. Researchers say it is the first time they have been able to read the text of an ancient scroll without having to physically open it.**

The article continues at the link.


A robot would be perfect.


:confused: Robot?


Can someone explain the apparent contradiction between the two bold-faced statements below?

The claim about “radically different” versions of the text is not one I have ever heard before and its lack of specificity seems merely to confuse the issue. Which texts have been found to be “radically different?” It doesn’t say. Why is the statement even included except to leave an incontestable impression – which may or may not even remotely approach the truth – namely, that many radically different versions of Biblical text exist and finally this one has been found that is the same? Seems a backhanded way to try to uphold a completely false narrative.

In ancient times, many versions of the Hebrew Bible circulated. The Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to as early as the 3rd century B.C., featured versions of the text that are radically different than today’s Hebrew Bible.

Scholars have believed the Hebrew Bible in its standard form first came about some 2,000 years ago, but never had physical proof, until now, according to the study. Previously the oldest known fragments of the modern biblical text dated back to the 8th century.

The text discovered in the charred Ein Gedi scroll is “100 percent identical” to the version of the Book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries, said Dead Sea Scroll scholar Emmanuel Tov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the study.

"This is quite amazing for us," he said. "In 2,000 years, this text has not changed."


I’m not a scholar, but here’s my opinion. It’s based on recently listening to some lectures by a Dr. John Bergsma on this very topic.

I don’t think it’s remotely true that the Dead Sea Scrolls offer radically different textual evidence. Yes, they provide some *different *readings, and many scholars view those readings as offering an insight into certain disputed texts. Certainly, translations of the Bible these days are expected to take the DSS into consideration when rendering certain OT texts. But the differences in readings are minor, and they certainly don’t affect anything on a wide scale. They just provide a deeper context into what the original autographs may have said in those areas where there have been discrepancies between the Masoretic Text and something like the Septuagint. In fact, the DSS are wonderful evidence that demonstrates that the Septuagint was actually a very good, literal translation.

I think the journalist’s comment was erroneous. Well caught.


Which is to say that translators and editors have taken “liberties” with the texts all along primarily in order to get at a clearer meaning of what was originally intended – whether successfully or not is always part of the debate. That isn’t problematic except to fundamentalists who want to insist that God ought to have dictated the Bible verbatim to human secretaries.


The words “radically different” seem not only erroneous but almost deceptive, especially since no attempt was made to explain the specific ways that the texts can be described that way.


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