The Publisher's Desk: Twelfth Dead Sea Scroll cave found
I desire to be a cautious Bible studier.
By that, I mean that I want to study closely, knowing that how I’m understanding it is how the original writer intended it to be understood. Second Timothy 2:15 teaches us to rightly divide the word of truth.
That Greek word for “dividing,” orthotomeo, carries with it the idea of cutting or dissecting, separating what is correct from what is incorrect. The idea is that when we study God’s word, we have to do our best to understand it correctly, in the context of what is being said, and not pull verses out of context and misuse them.
I feel confident that I can trust the Greek for several reasons, but one of them is that we have a lot of old, old documents that show us exactly what was written so long ago. Those documents help convince us and reassure us of the Bible’s accuracy. Which is why you and I can be cautiously glad to hear that a new cave may have been discovered possibly holding more remains of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A team of diggers excavated a cave in January and found six scroll jars, small fragments of parchment and papyrus and at least one linen used for wrapping scrolls.
If you’re not familiar, the eleventh Dead Sea Scrolls cave was discovered in the 1950s. These caves have become famous because of the discovery inside, in particular, scrolls that are the earliest known copies of the old testament. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s and ’50s, the oldest manuscript known to man was 1,000 A.D., well after Christ.
With the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now have texts that date back to 100 B.C. There is proof of people writing all the way back to 3,000 B.C.
The oldest writing from the Old Testament dates to about 1450 B.C. And the scribes who copied down the text were more than meticulous.
The material they wrote on was clean, put together in a precise way and divided into precise columns. The ink was prepared according to a particular recipe.
The text was copied only from authenticated copies and not even the dot over the i’s (or their equivalent) was written down without first looking at the text. Nothing was done by memory. Even the space between consonants was measured out perfectly.
The scribe wore a particular outfit to copy the text, and there were many more rules besides.
For this reason, the text from 1,000 A.D. and the text from 100 B.C., 1,100 years apart, are 95 percent identical.
The five percent difference consists mostly of slips of the pen and spelling. Certainly, nothing to cast doubt on the accuracy of the Bible we have today. (By the way, thank you to the Finer Grounds group Come Fill Your Cup, who provided this info. The group was founded by Erynn Sprouse, wife of Patrick Street church of Christ preacher Jeremy).
What is the point of all this?
With the discovery of the fragments, scholars might be able to find more of the Bible and verify more of it. There is plenty of evidence that shows the Bible is true.
But more evidence might help others see that truth. That’s exciting, even for those of us who are cautious.
Scott Dykowski is the publisher of the Dublin Citizen and can be reached at 445-2515 and firstname.lastname@example.org.