Ken Penner on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Ken Penner talks about his recent research on Qumranic Hebrew—that very specific type of Hebrew that sits between the various styles of Biblical Hebrew and later Mishnaic Hebrew. This is one for the die hard Hebrew nerds.

The full interview can be found here:

Brian W. Davidson Interviews Ken Penner on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls — CACS.

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Oldest biblical manuscript since the Dead Sea Scrolls has been deciphered

Technology has allowed us to decipher for the first time a fragment of a burnt scroll found in 1970 at the remains of the Byzantine Era synagogue at Ein Gedi. It turns out the scroll is the book of Leviticus, and can be dated to the sixth century AD. While this does not make it the oldest extant manuscript of the Hebrew Bible (that honour belongs to the Dead Sea Scrolls), it certainly is the oldest since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.*

The fragment covers the first eight verses of Leviticus. It was originally found in the synagogue’s ark, which housed the scrolls of scripture.

The settlement at Ein Gedi on the western shore of the Dead Sea met a fiery end not long after the production of this scroll—probably in the early seventh century.

For more on this find, see the following link:

The mosaic floor of the Old Synagogue at Ein Gedi.


* I use ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ as a broad category, and include within it the manuscripts from the caves in Wadi Murabba’at and Nahal Hever. For more information on the Dead Sea Scrolls, see the official Dead Sea Scrolls website.

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Website

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 and took half a century to be fully deciphered and published. Despite the secrecy and jealousy that characterised scholarship of the scrolls in the early decades, all the scrolls and fragments are now out in the open.

In a significant new step, the scrolls are currently being digitised and the images published online, giving academics and other interested folk unprecedented access to the scrolls. The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls project has this to say about the project:

Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history… Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project at this stage and are now accessible online.

The five manuscripts that have been digitised thus far are:

This is certainly an excellent development that should not just foster interest in the scrolls, but also boost interest in the Bible, the Second Temple Era, Early Judaism, textual criticism, paleaography, and Hebrew. There is so much to glean from the scrolls. The resolution of the images is very impressive, and both Google and the Israel Museum are to be commended for their efforts. I must say, though, that the final word on the scrolls must always lie with a personal inspection of the physical scrolls themselves. I learnt this when studying the fragments of the Tel Dan Inscription and realised that the published photos and drawings masked elements of the actual physical fragments, including (amongst other things) another letter that changed what the text was saying. While the resolution of these images of the scrolls is certainly much better than the photos of the Tel Dan Inscription taken in the early 1990s, the principle is, I believe, still applicable: personal inspection always trumps photographic images.

Nonetheless, this new website (http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/) is a great boon to study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Great Isaiah Scroll, now digitised.