Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Google Meets the Dead Sea Scrolls

Within months, everyday people will have access to the Dead Sea Scrolls, formally a relatively secret artifact that while not only controversial is also the basis for many religions throughout the globe.

Some little known facts about The Dead Sea Scrolls:

  • They were discovered in 11 caves along the Dead Sea between 1947 & 1956, 13 feel below sea level!
  • Only 2 caves produced intact manuscripts - with hundreds of fragments found.
  • There are 2 categories of scrolls - Biblical & Non-Biblical - Biblical include every book of the Old Testament (except the Book of Ester), 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of Psalms.  Prophecies not found in the Bible are also written in the scrolls (by Ezekiel, Jeremiah & Daniel).
  • The Isaiah Scroll is 1000 years older than all previous copies known.
  • New Psalms were found attributed to King David & Joshua.
  • Non-biblical work includes laws, community rule books, war conduct, benedictions and writings.
  • The scrolls are mostly written in Hebrew, but some are also in Aramaic, the language of the Jews of Palestine.  There are some text in Greek.
  • The scrolls appear to be found in what was once a library.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls were believed to be written during 200 B.C to 68 A.D. by the Essenes.  They were strict observers of the Torah.
  • The lasts words of Joseph, Judah, Levi, Naphtali and Amram were found in the Scrolls.
  • One scroll, the Copper Scroll, contains listings of 64 underground hiding places in Israel.  The spots are believed to contain riches (gold, silver, aromatics and manuscripts).
  • The longest Scroll, The Temple Scroll, is 26.7 feet long - believed to have been over 28 feet long.
  • The scrolls contain stories not found in the Bible.
  • None of the scrolls mention Jesus or his followers.
  • About 40% of the Scrolls have been unpublished since their discovery.  In 1991 there was a lot of political pressure to publish the scrolls and some photos were published along with computer reconstruction.
  • The Scrolls show Christianity rooted in Judaism and explain the evolutionary link between the two religions.
Now in 2010 Google and Israel are working together to publish the first searchable database of the scrolls online.  The 2,000 year old collection will be available free of charge.
Previously, access was limited to a small group of approved scholars.  In the 1990's much of that information was published in book form.
Now, anyone with internet access and a curious mind will be able to examine the documents provided by the Israel's Antiquities Authority.
For the last 18 years the scrolls have been displayed in museums in a sort of traveling show.  This limits the number of people with access to the scrolls.  With the online publication millions will be able to view them daily.

No comments: