It’s a rare thing when the major newspapers all report on something about the Bible, but it happened this past week. From the 8th century B.C. (when Jonah, Amos, Isaiah, and Micah were around) until about 600 A.D. there was a large Jewish community called En Gedi on the western shore of the Dead Sea. About 1500 years ago a fire raged in the community and destroyed the town. In 1970 when archaeologists excavated the site they found the remnants of the Holy Ark (the chest in the synagogue where the copy of the Torah was kept) and in it was a charred scroll that was so damaged they never thought they would be able to read it. It would disintegrate further every time they touched it. Since they could not examine the scroll without further damaging it, the Israel Antiquities Authority had kept the scroll persevered in storage and there it sat for decades.
Recently a new imaging technology used by researchers at the University of Kentucky has been able to “virtually unwrap” the scroll using a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. The scroll turns out to contain the verses from Leviticus 1:1-9 and Leviticus 2:1-11. Here is where the reporting of the secular press and the Christian press head down different roads in their discussion of the importance of this finding. The secular press focuses mainly on the technology and how it can be used to unlock other ancient documents. The Christian press has focused not only on the technology but also on the fact that this piece of Biblical history is nearly 2,000 years old and that the text that has been revealed is exactly the same as the text used today for translating the Old Testament into English.
Samantha Gobba writing in World Magazine puts it this way: “…the scroll proves those 18 lines of God’s law have not changed, one jot or tittle, in at least 1,700 years. Regent University’s Corné Bekker said this latest discovery is yet another score for biblical inerrancy. “Every new discovery in biblical archeology has served to underscore the trustworthiness of the Bible,” Bekker told me. “Science and faith are not enemies, but friends.”
I find this technology and the resulting discovery of what was on the scroll to be both fascinating and important, because such findings continue to confirm the authority and trustworthiness of the Scripture. If you want to read more about this discovery, take a look at the following sites:
- News from the AP
- World Magazine
- Joe Carter’s FAQs
- The Christian Post – includes a picture of the computer image of the “unwrapped scroll”
- National Geographic
- The New York Times
- Popular Mechanics (yes, you read that correctly)
- The Jerusalem Post
Or just google (or bing if you prefer) “Leviticus Scroll” and see what comes up. It will give you something to do today between college football games!!