25 Newly Published ‘Dead Sea Scroll’ Fragments are Detailed in New Books

The new scrolls are a few of many; others are being tested for authenticity.

By Nancy Flory Published on October 17, 2016

More than 25 newly released “Dead Sea Scroll” fragments have been detailed in two new books, reported Live Science. The fragments date back 2,000 years and contain text from the Biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Ruth, Kings, Micah, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Joshua, Judges, Proverbs, Numbers, Psalms, Ezekiel and Jonah.

While approximately 70 fragments have been on the market since 2002, some scholars believe that not all of them are genuine — some may be modern-day forgeries. Michael Holmes, Executive Director of the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative, told Live Science that scientists are testing the fragments to determine their authenticity.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) believes that there may be many more undiscovered scrolls hidden in the caves of the Judean Desert, and is sponsoring excavations of the area in the hopes of finding any before looters get to them.

The fragments known as the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered around 1946 by a shepherd who was looking for a lost goat in the settlement of Qumran. To amuse himself, he tossed rocks into a cave. When he heard the sound of breaking glass, the shepherd climbed in and saw the scrolls in jars. At that time, seven manuscripts were discovered in the cave; over the next decade, however, a search of 11 caves led archaeologists to nearly 900 manuscripts.

Some scholars believe the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by members of the Essenes — an ancient Jewish monastic sect — because of the type of textiles discovered in caves at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The textiles were undecorated and sometimes bleached white linen, rather than wool, which was the textile ancient Israelites preferred. These scholars point to the fact that many fabrics from that time period were vibrant in color whereas these were plain. The Essenes were known to dress simply with undecorated white clothing.

The 25 fragments were purchased by two collectors — one of whom is Steve Green, owner of Hobby Lobby. He donated his 13 fragments, along with other artifacts, to the Museum of the Bible, currently under construction three blocks south of the nation’s Capitol. Green serves as Founder and Chairman of the Board at the Museum of the Bible. The Museum is expected to open Fall 2017.

The remaining 12 fragments, purchased by Martin Schøyen, have been documented in the book Gleanings from the Caves: Dead Sea Scrolls and Artefacts from The Schøyen Collection (Bloomsbury, 2016). The second book detailing the fragments was written by a group of scholars and is titled Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection (Brill, 2016).

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