Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The "Dead Sea Scrolls" are now online!

History has showed us that technology can be a force of destruction, of suffering, a tool to enforce censorship, and to prevent the flow of ideas and information. But techonology can also be a force of creativity, of combatting suffering, and a tool to fight censorship and advance the flow of ideas and information.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now online, as part of a venture between The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Google. Written between the third and first centuries BCE, they include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence. In 68 BCE, they were hidden in 11 caves in the Judean desert on the shores of the Dead Sea to protect them from the approaching Roman armies. They weren’t discovered again until 1947, when a Bedouin shepherd threw a rock in a cave and realized something was inside. Since 1965, the scrolls have been on exhibit at the Shrine of the Book at The Israel Museum. Among other topics, the scrolls offer critical insights into life and religion in ancient Jerusalem, including the birth of Christianity.

At Purdue University, I had the privilege to study under Dr. Stuart Robertson (professor of Biblical Hebrew and Religious Studies) as part of his Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity and The Bible and its Early Interpreters courses. Dr. Robertson has worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls and he incorporates his experience working with them (along with his keen intellect, his humility, and sense of humor) into his classes and teaching. He really made me think of the importance of these manuscripts. Some of my favorite moments (and I believe of many of my classmates) were the discussions in class regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls, so now I am happy to share with you the link below that will allow anyone with internet access to look at these treasures:

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