The Dead Sea Scrolls Go Digital Online

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The Dead Sea Scrolls Go Digital Online

The digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project

Some of the oldest-known surviving biblical texts are headed for the Internet in a new collaboration between Google and the Israeli antiquities authorities. The initiative is using space-age technology to create the clearest-ever renderings of the ancient scrolls, which are available free of charge online.

The Israel Museum welcomes you to the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence, offer critical insight into Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project at this stage and are now accessible online.

Some of the oldest-known surviving biblical texts are headed for the Internet in a new collaboration between Google and the Israeli antiquities authorities.

The Israel Museum welcomes you to the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence, offer critical insight into Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project at this stage and are now accessible online.

“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public.”

The five Dead Sea Scrolls that have been digitized thus far include the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll, with search queries on Google.com sending users directly to the online scrolls. All five scrolls can be magnified so that users may examine texts in exacting detail. Details invisible to the naked eye are made visible through ultra-high resolution digital photography by photographer Ardon Bar-Hama– at 1,200 mega pixels each, these images are almost two hundred times higher in resolution than those produced by a standard camera. Each picture utilized UV-protected flash tubes with an exposure of 1/4000th of a second to minimize damage to the fragile manuscripts. In addition, the Great Isaiah Scroll may be searched by column, chapter, and verse, and is accompanied by an English translation tool and by an option for users to submit translations of verses in their own languages.

“The Dead Sea Scrolls Project with the Israel Museum enriches and preserves an important part of world heritage by making it accessible to all on the internet,” said Professor Yossi Matias, Managing Director of Google’s R&D; Center in Israel. “Having been involved in similar projects in the past, including the Google Art Project, Yad Vashem Holocaust Collection, and the Prado Museum in Madrid, we have seen how people around the world can enhance their knowledge and understanding of key historical events by accessing documents and collections online. We hope one day to make all existing knowledge in historical archives and collections available to all, including putting additional Dead Sea Scroll documents online.”

The popular name given to a collection of MS material belonging originally to an ancient religious community living near the Dead Sea.

1. Early discoveries.

2. Further explorations.

3. Dating the scrolls.

4. Contents of manuscripts.

5. Manuscript scraps.

6. The Qumran settlement.

7. The Qumran brotherhood.

a. Origins.

b. Community life.

c. Relation to Essenes.

The fellowship at Qumran has often been described as Essene, but despite such similarities as the monastic life, manual labor, spiritual devotion and the like, there are certain striking differences between them. Unlike most Essenes , the Qumran sectaries practiced marriage, indulged in animal sacrifices, were non-pacifists, and avoided all contact with the outside world. Although, as Josephus has made clear, the term "Essene" was of an elastic nature in antiquity, it seems unwise at present to regard the Qumran group as typically Essene, since they may well be more closely related instead to the cave-dwelling Magharian sect of the early Christian era.

d. Qumran and Christianity.

Some scholars have attempted to see in the Qumran brotherhood a distinct anticipation of Christianity, the most important areas being that of the Righteous Teacher as Messiah and the organizational and quasi-sacramental life of the group. The sectaries nowhere regarded their founder as the Messiah however, while their monastic life has few parallels with early Christianity. The gospel sacraments have different theological bases from those in use at Qumran, and entertain concepts of sin and atonement which were foreign to the thought of the sectaries. Suggestions that John the Baptist and even Jesus may have received some training at the settlement are entirely speculative, for in actual fact there are serious differences between the theology and practices of the Qumran group and the lives and doctrines of the Baptist and Christ, making any serious contact between them improbable. Despite the common background of divine revelation in the OT upon which both Christ and the sectaries drew, the parallels between Qumran teachings and the doctrines of Jesus are almost entirely restricted to the fifth ch. of Matthew. Echoes of Qumran diction in the NT writings include such phrases as "children of light," "life eternal," "the light of life," "the works of God" and "that they may be one." Such expressions set the NT material firmly against a 1st cent. a.d. Palestinian Jewish milieu, making unnecessary a 2nd cent. date for 2 Peter and the fourth gospel.

8. The Scrolls and the Bible.

Bibliography

  • The scrolls and the Bible
  • The scrolls and the Bible

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