Sioux Falls Atheists
Sioux Falls Atheists and Atheism, Agnostics and Humanism

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Dead Sea Scrolls for describing how the
discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls enhanced our understanding of
early Jewish history and of the Bible's Old Testament.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
Lectures by Professor Gary A. Rendsburg

The Dead Sea Scrolls (2010) - 24 lectures, 12 hours
The Dead Sea Scrolls

The year: 1947. A Bedouin shepherd tracks one of his stray goats into a cave mouth above the shore of the Dead Sea at a desolate place named Qumran. Inside, he discovers a pair of tall, thin clay pots. And what he finds when he opens those pots will be nothing less than the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century: the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Soon enough, archaeologists began swarming the dusty cliffs of Qumran in search of more caves and more scrolls. In time, the original 7 scrolls this Bedouin shepherd haphazardly uncovered grew to 930 scrolls; some of them complete, others merely fragments.

In the 60 years since their dramatic discovery, excavation, reassembly, and translation, the Dead Sea Scrolls have provided us with these and other fascinating insights:

1. Our oldest biblical manuscripts, including all of the book of Isaiah, portions of virtually every other book in the Hebrew Bible, and other texts esteemed by ancient Jews

2. An unprecedented window into two great monotheistic traditions in the pivotal years before and after the time of Jesus, offering insights into Jewish history, culture, and religion, as well as the growth of early Christianity out of Judaism

3. Evidence of both the theological stance and ritual practices of the Yahad, an Essene group that had authored the scrolls and that, thousands of years later, have given scholars a fresh perspective on rival sects like the Sadducees and Pharisees

4. The remarkable consistency in wording and meaning between the biblical texts discovered at Qumran and the great medieval codices that form a part of the spiritual lives of millions of Jews and Christians

5. Enhanced knowledge of how the Bible was transmitted across the ages

Whether complete or only fragmentary, the 930 extant Dead Sea Scrolls irrevocably altered how we look at and understand the foundations of faith and religious practice.

Professor Gary A. Rendsburg holds the Blanche and Irving Laurie Chair in Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. An expert in the history of ancient Israel and the literature of the Bible, he has spent decades immersed in the study of Qumran and other ancient sites in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. Among his more than 120 scholarly articles and books is The Bible and the Ancient Near East.

24 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: The Discoveries and Their Significance 13: Stops and Starts En Route to Publication
2: The First Seven Scrolls 14: The Qumran Vision for a New Temple
3: Opening and Reading the First Scroll 15: Daily Life at Qumran
4: The Historical Backdrop of Ancient Judaism 16: The Halakhic Letter - Rituals Define the Sect
5: The Rise of the Jewish Sects 17: The Qumran Biblical Canon
6: The Dead Sea Site of the Qumran Sect 18: The Qumran Calendar
7: The Emergence of the Rabbinic System 19: Jewish Scholars and Qumran Ritual Practices
8: A Dead Sea scroll from Medieval Cairo 20: Prayers, Hymns, and the Synagogue
9: Pesher Interpretation - Prophecy Read Anew 21: Qumran Hebrew as an Anti-Language
10: The War Scroll and Other Apocalyptic Texts 22: The Enigma of the Copper Scroll
11: Biblical Manuscripts at Qumran 23: Connections to Christianity
12: Alternate Views of Qumran and the Scrolls 24: Scrolls Fragments and a New View of Judaism

9-7-19 The longest Dead Sea Scroll sports a salt finish that the others lack
The treatment may help explain why the Temple Scroll is remarkably bright. Decades after the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in desert caves, the ancient manuscripts are still offering surprises. Chemical analysis of the Temple Scroll, the longest of the scrolls, has revealed a salty coating on the text side of the scroll that hasn’t been previously found on the others. This unusual finish suggests that the Temple Scroll’s remarkably bright parchment was manufactured differently from other documents in the collection, researchers report online September 6 in Science Advances. It’s not yet clear how the mineral coating may have contributed to the Temple Scroll’s striking appearance, says Admir Masic, a materials scientist at MIT. But understanding the properties of this manuscript and others like it could inform strategies for preserving these 2,000-year-old documents, which include sections of the Hebrew Bible, as well as help in spotting forgeries. Masic and colleagues scrutinized a small fragment of the Temple Scroll using X-ray and Raman spectroscopy. These techniques involve shining radiation on a sample and measuring the light that emanates back out to map the material’s chemical composition. “This surprise came out, of salts that we weren’t expecting to find at all,” Masic says. The mixture atop the Temple Scroll mostly comprises sulfate salts, including minerals like gypsum, glauberite and thenardite, not previously seen on the Dead Sea Scrolls (SN: 11/17/17). “Sometimes you find a lot of inorganic components on these scrolls or fragments, and they probably came from the caves,” Masic says. But since the minerals on the Temple Scroll aren’t generally found in the region around the Dead Sea, it’s more likely that these materials were used in the scroll’s production, the researchers conclude.

1-22-18 Mysterious Dead Sea Scroll deciphered in Israel
One of the last remaining obscure parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been deciphered by researchers in Israel. Sixty tiny fragments were pieced together over a period of a year, identifying the name of a festival marking the changes between seasons. It also revealed a second scribe corrected mistakes made by the author. The 900 scrolls, written by an ancient Jewish sect, have been a source of fascination since the first were discovered in a cave in Qumran in 1947. The collection is considered the oldest copy of the Bible ever found, dating to at least the 4th Century BC. The sections of the scrolls were pieced together by Dr Eshbal Ratson and Prof Jonathan Ben-Dov of Haifa University. They were written in code and some of the fragments were smaller than 1 sq cm (0.155 sq inches). They detailed special occasions celebrated by the ancient Jewish sect, which observed a unique 364-day calendar. These included festivals of New Wheat, New Wine and and New Oil, which were related to the Jewish festival of Shavuot. The researchers also discovered the name used by the sect for a festival observed four times a year that marked the transition between the seasons - Tekufah. The same word in modern-day Hebrew means "period". They said they were assisted in deciphering the code by annotations discovered in the margins by a scribe correcting omissions made by the author. The priceless Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves in Qumran on the western shore of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956. They were reportedly first discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd searching for lost sheep.

1-4-18 How the Dead Sea Scrolls survived a war in the 1960s
Excerpt from the January 20, 1968 issue of Science News. The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, rumored lost or damaged during the June war between Israel and Egypt, are safe, according to Antiquity…. On the eve of the war they were packed up and put safely in a strong room in the basement of the Palestine Archaeological Museum (Rockefeller Museum), according to a reliable authority. — Science News, January 20, 1968. The Dead Sea Scrolls made news again in 2017 when archaeologists announced the discovery of a cave with new evidence of scrolls. The cave, close to the original 11 caves that housed scrolls near Qumran in the West Bank, held several broken jars and linen like that used to wrap the scrolls. The pottery dates to roughly 2,200 years ago and is typical of the kind used to store scrolls. One large jar still held a blank fragment of hide, possibly intended to be written on. Two rusty pickaxes located near that jar suggest looters took scrolls from the cave several decades ago.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
Lectures by Professor Gary A. Rendsburg

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Dead Sea Scrolls for describing how the
discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls enhanced our understanding of
early Jewish history and of the Bible's Old Testament.