jump to navigation

The Dead Sea Scrolls February 9, 2016

Posted by anagasto in history.
trackback

.

http://printable-maps.blogspot.com.es/2009_11_01_archive.html

The region used to be under British control, has been known as West Bank since 1947 and is also called the Dead Sea Region.

.

The texts are in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most are on parchment, some are on papyrus, and one enigmatic scroll is in bronze.

Vocabulary
Aramaic = a Syrian dialect prevalent in the Near East from the 6th century BC until 70 AD
parchment = skin of a sheep or goat prepared for writing on
Bedouin = nomadic tribe of Arabs

papyrus = paper made from this plant by cutting it in strips and pressing it flat

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

.

Qumran photographed by Effi Schweizer, released into public domain according to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Qumran.jpeg

It begins like a great fairy tale:

Once upon a time there were two cousins,

both called Muhammed, and one of them fell into a cave.
Inside, he found a few jars containing parchments with old writings.
He took some home to show to his people, and nobody knew what to make of them.  So he hung them up on a tent pole to wait and see.
They were members of a nomadic Arab tribe called Bedouins.
(It is not true that they used the parchment as fire wood).

This was back in 1946.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

.

First, they went to a dealer in Bethlehem who looked at the old parchment and said it was worthless. Wasn’t it maybe stolen from the synagogue?

So the Bedouins went to a local market***  :-)  where a sheik recommended a cobbler who dealt in antiques.

*** In the small towns in Spain it is still that way. If you need to know something, you go to the market and there, depending on your connections and some other imponderables, somebody might actually tell you what you need to know.)

Later John C. Trever tried to reconstruct the steps that led to the discoveries, and so he also went to the local market:

“We were soon lost in the crowd of shoppers, merchants, goats, sheep, and donkeys, as we squirmed our way down narrow shoplined King David Street ….”

John C. Trever: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Personal Account

.

The first scrolls were finally sold for £7 GBP (US $ 29,- in 2003 exchange terms)

In 1947, John C. Trever at the American School for Oriental Research had heard of the discoveries. This was on the eve of Israel’s War of Independence and the region became dangerous to visit. Shortly before the establishment of the State of Israel, Professor E. L. Sukenik of the Hebrew University clandestinely acquired three of the scrolls from a Christian Arab antiquities dealer in Bethlehem.

Meanwhile, little by little the Bedouins discovered more caves, as they  began to realize that the parchments could be sold, and in 1956 there was even an ad in the paper:
.

Notice how readers had to be told what could be done with such an old thing?

At this point still very few people knew about the enigmatic scrolls and even fewer imagined what they could be. Cave 1 had to be re-discovered, and more caves containing old texts were found.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

.
barges towing wheat22

The scrolls were thought to date from between 530 BCE and 70 CE, called the Second Temple period, but their history and origin is still not clear.

Lots of texts came in small bits and pieces; some were destroyed during the searches and some were not properly stored, but most were on parchment so that finally the DNA of a fragment could be used to find its source.

This is how the NASA was put to good use. Since they had the instruments needed to identify the DNA of the little pieces of goat skin, they did a great job putting together the verses of the Isaiah puzzle.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

There seem to have been no revolutionary discoveries. The caves had preserved texts more or less the same as those you can find in any small town library:

— “Biblical” copies of passages from the Hebrew Bible representing about 40% of the identified scrolls;

— “Apocryphal” manuscripts  like Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach, additional psalms, that were not ultimately canonized in the Hebrew Bible representing about 30% of the identified scrolls; and

— “Sectarian” manuscripts of previously unknown rules and beliefs of groups within greater Judaism.
.
Canon = a body of fundamental principles in a field of art or philosophy e.g. neoclassical canon
Apocrypha =  books of the Old Testament included in the Vulgate, but omitted in Jewish and Protestant versions of the Bible.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

.

The photos of the barges on the Dead Sea and the one of the Jerusalem street are from the blog at http://www.israeldailypicture.com/

based on a picture collection at the US Library of Congress


Public domain photo by Frank M. Good on the home page of Israel’s History – a Picture a Day at http://www.israeldailypicture.com/

The picture collection of the US Library of Congress is at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93513677/
.
.

Comments»

1. dead sea - September 19, 2012

This is really very helpful and knowledgeable article…

Thanks for sharing with us!!

2. Jennie36 - January 14, 2013

The Library of Congress link given above as http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93513677/ does not seem to work.

cantueso - January 14, 2013

It seems to work there, in your comment, and it is linked to the US Library of Congress, but the pictures are different. I remember the barges and the camels as belonging to the same collection. I´ll have to see.

3. cantueso - December 24, 2013

The link is http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93513677/

It is the US Congress library, and there are lots of very old photos of Palestine and Jerusalem with “No known restrictions on publication.”

For the post on the Dead See scrolls and the John C. Trever discoveries, I had been looking for photos of old Jewish markets, which explains the focus on “sheep and goats” in the selection below :-)

You’ll find links to

City walls–Jerusalem–1880-1920.
Shepherds–Jerusalem–1880-1920.
Sheep–Jerusalem–1880-1920.
Goats–Jerusalem–1880-1920.

!!!
Great photos.

4. open air photo booth - February 13, 2014

Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone!
Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to
all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s