Dead Sea Scrolls: 2,000 Years Ago Jews Used Biblical ‘Pocket Books’


Around 2,000 years ago, Jews used beautifully written formal Bible manuscripts for public reading, but also informal and poorly-written Bible texts for personal use, as new research on the Sea Scrolls has shown. Dead. Additionally, some of the manuscripts may be older than previously thought, suggesting that the current canonical form of the Book of Psalms may date earlier than previously believed. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a body of some 25,000 fragments unearthed in caves on the shores of the Dead Sea in the 1940s and 1950s. The artifacts include some of the oldest manuscripts in the Bible, other religious texts which were not accepted in canon and non-religious writings. In recent years, “The hands that wrote the Bible”, an artificial intelligence-based paleographic project carried out by researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and supported by the European Research Council, s ‘is focused on understanding the identity of the scribes who copied the scrolls. Drew Longacre, one of the researchers involved in the project, focused on the manuscripts containing the texts of the Davidic Psalms. how important they were to old readers as well, ”he said. “For this reason, I think this is a very important test case. Called Tehillim in Hebrew, the Psalms are a collection of some 150 songs that made up the first book of Ketuvim (Writings), the third section of the Hebrew Bible. Jewish tradition attributes a lot to King David.

The Dead Sea Scrolls collection features forty scrolls containing the text: “Some of them are just a tiny fragment; some are collections of many large fragments, ”said Longacre. “Maybe about fifteen of them are substantially preserved.” One aspect that makes the Psalm Scrolls particularly interesting is the diversity of the artifacts in terms of content and format, which has sparked much controversy among experts, he said. All of them follow just one pattern and what we know about the medieval manuscript, ”Longacre said. “It raises a lot of challenges, and people have tried to explain it in a lot of different ways.” “Some people have suggested or insisted that there is one and only one canonical form, and everything else is somehow secondary to that,” he said. . “Others have argued that over time the manuscripts have come to resemble more and more the medieval manuscripts that we have. And still others today say that the text was very fluid, and people just freely rearranged these songs as they liked, and the standard, definitive arrangement of Psalms we know today did not exist. dating of the rolls and their typology. Preliminary results from analysis using paleographic and radiocarbon dating revealed that some of the scrolls may actually be older than previously thought. “One of the manuscripts showing texts in roughly the same order as medieval manuscripts could have been dated as early as the third century BCE, which could be very difficult for those who say the current Psalter is a very creation. more recent, “he said. at an academic conference hosted by the University of Groningen last month, Longacre suggested that time may not be the main factor in interpreting the Psalms manuscripts. . Emphasize is that when we look at these scrolls, we don’t just need to know when they were written, but how they were written, “he said.” What we are seeing is that some of them are very large manuscripts, with large margins, very neat and clean, with beautiful handwriting and professional calligraphy, “he added.” On the other hand, when you look at smaller manuscripts, handwriting ma Nuscript tends to be very informal. It’s often sloppy and sloppy or, while nice, it’s usually not on the same level as beautiful calligraphic writing. a distinction somewhat comparable to the modern difference between a Torah scroll used for public reading in synagogues and a Chumash, a book containing the Pentateuch, generally used for learning purposes, or between hardcover books and pocket books. The difference between formal and informal manuscripts could also offer a fundamental key to interpreting the discrepancies between conflicting versions of the texts, Longacre said. “I argue that the handwriting and the appearance of the manuscript actually help us interpret the text,” he said. “If we can look at a manuscript and note that although it does not agree with our medieval manuscripts, it represented a complete version of the Psalter [and] is one thing. “But when it comes to small manuscripts, they can differ wildly because people creatively reused and selectively rearranged songs, never thinking of these scrolls as replacing the Psalter, because everyone recognized that they had. look completely different. ” Longacre hopes to use AI-based paleographic technology to better understand the authors of different manuscripts and whether the same scribe could have copied more than one scroll of Psalms, as well as other scrolls. “I think looking at the combination of dating, classification of styles and identification of writers, we can see a much more granular picture,” he said. “We are able to come up with that micro-story of individual scribes, and we don’t just rely on vague generalizations. ” “I think this is an important way forward that clarifies a lot of ongoing debates,” Longacre said.


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