A young Bedouin shepherd throws a rock into a cave, hears breaking pottery, and discovers some of the most significant ancient documents ever found.
The time: March 1947
The place: Qumran area on northwestern shore of the Dead Sea
This true story is a wonderful example of how God has preserved His Word throughout history.
In these and nearby caves, they found older copies of Old and New Testament books than had ever been discovered before. Where else could these ancient scrolls have survived for 1900 years!
But that's not the most amazing part: When authorities compared these scrolls with scrolls previously discovered, there were only slight variations. The truths of Scripture we knew before this discovery were accurate. They were confirmed in the older manuscripts. There were slight differences - the older manuscripts did not contain some of the verses of the newer manuscripts. These extra verses did not contradict biblical teaching but were probably added by scribes.
Think about it: Thousands of years, hundreds of scribes writing by hand, and the Bible remains the same. That's nothing short of supernatural.
Sources: The Everything History of the Bible, Jeff Donley, Ph.D, copyright 2006, F&W Publications;
The Dead Sea Scrolls
More Interesting Facts:
The best preserved scrolls were stored in earthen jars. But even those laying unprotected on the floor produced readable fragments.
As said above, the Dead Sea Scrolls were older than previously discovered copies of Scripture. In the first cave found by the goat herder, they discovered the oldest complete text of Isaiah dating 125 years before Christ. Fragments of New Testament books found in other caves are also the oldest copies in existence.
Parts of every Old Testament book except Esther were found.
Below are portions of a thorough article on Apologetics Press:
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SCROLLS
"While the importance of these documents is multifaceted, one of their principle contributions to biblical studies is in the area of textual criticism. This is the field of study in which scholars attempt to recreate the original content of a biblical text as closely as possible. Such work is legitimate and necessary since we possess only copies (apographs), not the original manuscripts (autographs) of Scripture. The Dead Sea Scrolls are of particular value in this regard for at least two reasons: (1) every book of the traditional Hebrew canon, except Esther, is represented (to some degree) among the materials at Qumran (Collins, 1992, 2:89); and (2) they have provided textual critics with ancient manuscripts against which they can compare the accepted text for accuracy of content."
"...A comparison of the MT [previous copies of Scripture] to this earlier [Dead Sea Scrolls] text revealed the remarkable accuracy with which scribes copied the sacred texts. Accordingly, the integrity of the Hebrew Bible was confirmed, which generally has heightened its respect among scholars and drastically reduced textual alteration."
Several articles (most recently in 2020) have reported that the
fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls displayed in the Museum of the Bible in
Washington D.C. were proved to be fakes, but as the Smithsonian Magazine
reports: "The report does not cast doubt upon the authenticity of the
Dead Sea Scrolls held by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. These artifacts
are among the most precious relics of the ancient world, first
discovered in 1947 in a cave at Qumran, near the shores of the Dead Sea.
Dated to around 2,000 years ago, most of the scrolls were written in
Hebrew, though some were penned in Aramaic and Greek."
copyright, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted
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