Tuesday, 13 January 2009

[Sunday School] Day 2: topic 2 part 1

[we're starting on a new topic...]

We'll now talk about the Dead Sea Scrolls, Textual Criticism, and the Bible Code. These subjects are related somehow.

Let's begin with a question to illustrate why I think this is an interesting topic to look at. We're told that it is not a good idea to add or take away things from the Bible. We don't fool around with it. But look at 1 Sam 10.27, why the heck is the same passage so much longer in the NRSV compared with the NIV? What on earth happened? To explain what happened, we'll need to take a look at the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the idea of textual criticism.

I will first give you a brief introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then we'll consider their significance to OT studies. After all those, we'll look at something way less cool--the Bible Code, and have a good laugh at it. Just for fun.

Just to clarify, we're not talking about squirrels from the Dead Sea, but scrolls with writings on them.

According to one popular version of the story, around 1947, some shepherd boys found a cave of jars and scrolls. They extracted 7 scrolls and sold them to people. Those who purchased the scrolls didn't know their value, so they showed them to scholars. Sukenik of the Hebrew University and scholars of the American School of Oriental Research were the first to recognize the value of these scrolls.

Here are some pictures of the cave where those shepherd boys found the scrolls.

A picture of Sukenik studying one of the scrolls from Cave 1.

Someone tried to sell scrolls from Cave 1 in the US. Yigael Yadi, the son of Sukenik, saw the ad on the WSJ, so he sent someone to purchase the national treasures and flew them back to Israel.

After people recognized the value of the scrolls from Cave 1, they started looking for more. In the end, they found another 10 caves contained scrolls. They also excavated a ruin in the neighbourhood of the caves. Many believe that it was the inhabitants of the ruin were the original owners of the scrolls.

We found some 900 manuscripts in those caves, encompassing a wide array of different writings, even a treasure map written on copper among them.

Here is a picture of the Copper Scroll.

[to be cont']