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.