By Rossella Tercatin, JPost—
Some 2,000 years ago, Jews used formal beautifully written biblical manuscripts for public reading, but also informal and sloppily written biblical texts for personal use, new research on the Dead Sea Scrolls has shown.
In addition, some of the scrolls might be more ancient than previously thought, suggesting that the current canonical form of the Book of Psalms might date earlier than previously believed.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a corpus of some 25,000 fragments unearthed in caves on the shores of the Dead Sea in the 1940s and 1950s. The artifacts include some of the most ancient manuscripts of the Bible, other religious texts that were not accepted in the canon and nonreligious writings.
Over the past few years, “The Hands that Wrote the Bible,” an artificial-intelligence-based paleographic project carried out by scholars at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and supported by the European Research Council, has been focusing on understanding more about the identity of the scribes who copied the scrolls.
Dr. Drew Longacre, one of the scholars involved in the project, has been concentrating on the manuscripts featuring the texts of the Davidic Psalms.
“The Psalms are immensely important for both the Jewish and the Christian traditions, and the Dead Sea Scrolls give us a window into how important they were for ancient readers as well,” he said. “For this reason, I think this is a very important test case.”
Called Tehillim in Hebrew, the Psalms are a collection of some 150 songs that composed the first book of the Ketuvim (Writings), the third section of the Hebrew Bible. Jewish tradition attributes many of them to King David. Continue Reading….