Text of Leviticus Found on 1,700-Year-Old Scroll Inside Ancient Israeli Ark

ScrollJERUSALEM — Researchers in Israel expressed excitement this past week after successfully using technology to decipher a 1,700-year-old scroll that was discovered in an ark inside of a Jewish synagogue.

“You can’t imagine the joy in the lab,” Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

As previously reported, the parchment had been discovered in 1970 among the remains of the ancient Ein Gedi synagogue, located on the shore of the Dead Sea. David had once sought refuge in the caves of Ein Gedi when he was being hunted by King Saul.

In approximately 600 A.D., the synagogue was destroyed by fire, and the scrolls, found over forty years ago, were discovered in the holy ark—a chest that holds parchments containing the Old Testament, known to Jews as the Tanakh.

The scrolls were “completely burned and crushed, [and] had turned into chunks of charcoal that continued to disintegrate every time they were touched,” researchers said. Nonetheless, the chunks were retrieved and placed in storage for preservation and examination.

At the time, forensics could not decipher script on the scroll, but last year, through the use of micro-CT scanner technology, it was believed that the parchment contained the first eight verses of the second chapter of the Book of Leviticus.

Researchers continued to study the parchment via “virtual unwrapping”—a digital scanning technique used at the University of Kentucky—and located an extra column of text containing the first chapter of Leviticus as well. Both chapters speak of the required offerings unto the Lord.

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It was also found through radiocarbon dating that the scroll is about 200 years older than originally thought, dating it at approximately 300 A.D., although some researchers believe it could be as old as 50 A.D.

Inspection of the text found it to be exactly the same as the Masoretic text, which is still used in today’s Bibles. The congruity pleased researchers.

“It can’t be coincidental that the synagogue in Ein Gedi that was burned in the sixth century housed an early scroll whose text was completely identical with medieval texts,” Emanuel Tov, one of the authors of the research article released Wednesday by Science Advances, told reporters.

“The same central stream of Judaism that used this Levitical scroll in one of the early centuries of our era was to continue using it until the late Middle Ages when printing was invented,” he said. “This is quite amazing for us. In 2,000 years, this text has not changed.”

Researchers are likewise amazed at the success of the virtual unwrapping technology, which may now be used to help read other ancient and biblical artifacts, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“It’s not only what was found, but the promise of what else it can uncover, which is what will turn this into an exciting discovery,” Noam Mizrahi at Tel Aviv University told the Associated Press.

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  • Is now a good time to say “King James Only” and “we told ye so”?

    • RWH

      The problem with this is that the parchment is written in Hebrew. One could use this to justify the Geneva Bible and the Wycliffe Bible as well. Scholars have claimed that Jesus quoted Scripture, he did so from the Septuagint.

      • Hebrew? That’s not a problem! That’s great! It specifically lends no support to the “Septuagint” and notions that Jesus quoted it, and scholarly arguments to insinuate confusion into scripture from Origen’s corrupted Alexandrian texts and their attached apocrypha.

        • RWH

          By the way, the King James Bible that people use is really the 1728 revision of the original, which contained the Deuterocanonical books (known as the Apocrypha). This corruption stuff comes from none other than Peter Ruckman, who comes up with a lot of nonsensical arguments that the KJV is the Word of God, and is propagated by the Chick comic book series and its Alexandrian Cult. The KJV argument has swept through much of fundamentalism, but not all fundamentalists are KJV only. The study of the original autographs is an interesting and complicated study, and those who come up with black/white arguments should not be trusted like most of the KJV-only crowd.

          By the way, the non Church of England Christians rejected the KJV in favor of the Geneva Bible until about the mid 1700s.

          • So what then is the Word of God? Where can I get a copy? Where are the perfect words of the law? Where are the words of Jesus which he said would never pass away? Are the wise men of this age still editing them? Is the Word of God still in the minds of the scholars, to whom we look, who will change our vile text that it may be fashioned like unto their glorious text, according to the working whereby they are able to subdue all translations to the mighty works of Origen?

          • RWH

            Well, you’re going to have to ask your pastor for advice. There are a lot of modern day translations. However, when you’re getting into textual criticism, we don’t have the originals that the disciples actually wrote. We have a series of texts, some in better shape than others. The Church got together and decided what books were Scripture and which ones were not. All of the churches recognize four gospels. The Ethiopians/Coptics also recognize a Gospel of Peter, I believe. However, the Orthodox recognize four books in Kings whereas the Protestants separate Chronicles from Kings. The Old Testament books are ordered differently in the Orthodox Bible. If you are looking for the definitive Word of God as written, good luck. There are too many textual families and variants.

            By the way, every time the term Word of God is mentioned, it often does not refer to the written text but to the verbal Word of God as given to the prophets.

          • So I must go to a priest, because Vaticanus and because forged Sinaiticus. Somehow forgery made the words of Jesus pass away, preserving only the general idea – so you say, but I say not. In the place of “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” you have: “81tc Many important mss (Ì75 א1 B D* W Θ 070 579 1241 pc sys sa) lack v. 34a. It is included in א*,2 (A) C D2 L Ψ 0250 Ë1,(13) 33 Ï lat syc,p,h. It also fits a major Lukan theme of forgiving the enemies (6:27-36), and it has a parallel in Stephen’s response in Acts 7:60. The lack of parallels in the other Gospels argues also for inclusion here. On the other hand, the fact of the parallel in Acts 7:60 may well have prompted early scribes to insert the saying in Luke’s Gospel alone. Further, there is the great difficulty of explaining why early and diverse witnesses lack the saying. A decision is difficult, but even those who regard the verse as inauthentic literarily often consider it to be authentic historically. For this reason it has been placed in single brackets in the translation.”
            Do you se the authority? Did you understand? Me neither, nor my pastor. Also א*, (A) is fake.

          • RWH

            Well, nobody said that textual criticism is an easy study to slog through. The fact remains that there are slight variants between texts. What really counts is if they change meanings in any significant way. There are disagreements as to the exact words of texts and their meaning and interpretation. That’s partially why we have so many Christian denominations. As with selecting a church, everyone has the task of selecting the authority that they feel is most persuasive and loyal to the original meaning. That’s the reality of the situation, and that’s the reality of life.

          • If you can select an authority, then you yourself are the authority. The word of God used to be the authority, but now it’s me. This is new.

          • RWH

            Well, this is one of the trials that we go through as adults. You have to choose what authority is the best. Who is the ultimate authority? The Baptists? The Presbyterians? The Catholics? The Orthodox? There are plenty of documents around detailing the understanding that the early church had toward proper Christian practice. Protestantism for the most part reject these writings as being definitive. Ignatius was the first bishop of Antioch at a time when the other disciples were still alive. This is evidence that the episcopacy was the form of church government at that time, but Protestantism for the most part has rejected that form of church government.

            Protestantism has always emphasized the individual and his/her personal interpretation vs one handed down by authorities. You can go through life with your head in the sand and believe that there is only one definitive authority out there. However, we struggle for proper interpretations among a multitude of tests. Johnny come latelys such as Peter Ruckman will make authoritarian pronouncements and label others as being a part of the Alexandrian Cult. However, textual study is a serious discipline in which to find out what the originals really said. There are a number of variants among the texts, and their job is to figure out which one is the most accurate. Perhaps someday we’ll find other texts that will be more ancient than the ones that we have. People will analyze the handwriting and all sorts of other features. However, these variants (almost to a one) have not influenced our understanding of the cardinal doctrines of the Church.

          • So any authority is okay by you, except the authority of the received text. The variants destroy the doctrine of Christ, and destroy the authority of the word of God, replacing these with uncertainty and the shifting shadows of mens’ understanding.

          • RWH

            I don’t remember saying that any authority goes. What I said is that there are a lot of variants in the original texts. People have to decide which ones they wish to follow. If you want to follow the teachings of Peter Ruckman and believe that the KJV is the preserved Word of God, you are welcome to do so. In fact, if you want others to do your thinking for you so that you can put your mind in neutral and not explore the issue for yourself, perhaps you should join either the Catholic or the Orthodox Church and have the bishops tell you what to think and make their teachings binding on your conscious. However, in the meantime, a number of original texts exist, and there are some minor differences between them. If reality bothers you that much, you can be like the Hindu gentleman who smashed a microscope so that he avoid the reality that he was killing things as he walked and breathed.

          • You did not say “any authority”, but you did name a number of specific Christian denominations as possible authorities. The one thing that is not the final unavoidable word of God is the word of God itself, because it is only the authority of unknown men that approve it. There are no original texts, by the way: there are only copies. If you insist on extant written manuscripts then you are discarding the word of God, and corrupting it with frauds modern and ancient. You have no authority to do that.

          • RWH

            Your reply makes no sense whatsoever. You tell me that if “I” insist on extant written manuscripts, I am discarding the Word of God. Well, where do you think that the compilation of books called the Bible came from? Furthermore, I don’t think that you would know a fraud, modern or ancient, if you stumbled on it. It was at the Ecumenical Council at Nicea that the church fathers determined what comprised the Bible. You can say anything that you want, but that is an historical fact. That the Orthodox and the Catholics have a different arrangement of Old Testament books is another historical fact. That people study Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic so that they can determine what the actual words mean is another historical fact. And the fact that certain people cherry pick scripture to prove some sort of idiotic point is another historical fact.

            You want absolute truth? Go back to the Middle Ages where we had a strong-man government and a strong-man church where individuals determined what was truth and what was not. While the words of a text matter, it is really the interpretation of that test where the rubber meets the road. Unless people behave like a bunch of brainwashed zombies, people have choices. They can become Methodists, or Baptists, or Presbyterians, or charismatics of some sort, or they can join more authoritarian churches like the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The fact remains that authorities within these groups interpret the text in many different ways, and people approach the originals in many different ways. If you choose to call one of the early texts a fraud, that is your privilege. However, the rest of us will disagree with you and proudly bear the label Christian.

            What I have discovered though is that most people who cavalierly label texts as fraudulent don’t know what they are talking about. And this idea of false texts comes from none other than Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, Florida, who is considered a cook even by militant fundamentalists. Unfortunately, his ideas are propagated by Chick Comics and their belief in a so-called Alexandrian Cult, a term which nobody has ever heard of.

          • “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not.”
            The words. Which words? THE words. That’s what I want: the words. I don’t want opinions, just the words. I believe I have them.
            Hopefully this short reply does not merit a long answer about some Peter guy I haven’t heard of.

    • Oleg Shishko

      Hmmm…. probably not. I don’t see how this proves that the work of the translators was inspired. This is great support for the Masoretic text, but as far as I can tell, the Masoretic text never mentioned a prophecy that the work of foreign translators in the 1600s would be inspired.

      • Scholarly critics have been trying to make the Masoretic text conform to inferior Greek for 150 years (as long as scholars have been trying to make creation confirm to the incomplete theories of Darwin). The KJV is not based on Greek manuscripts for the old testament, but the Hebrew.

  • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    God has faithfully preserved His Word.

  • LadyInChrist♥BlessedBeTheLord

    I would love to see it.

  • Crusader777

    The Word is the same yesterday, today and forever!

    Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

  • I should point out that logically, the corroborating text of an ancient, unauthenticated (unknown author) document lends no factual evidence at all to the belief that a god inspired it. So, this cannot be taken as proof that the Tanakh is factual.