Tag Archives: Biblical History

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Upgraded & Expanded

A portion of the Isaiah Scroll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A portion of the Isaiah Scroll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. The upgraded version provides 10,000 additional high resolution images as well as more supplementary texts to allow users to understand the material in context.

The new website also provides better search features, better explanations, additional translations in German and Russian, and more. The website continues to get updates and will become more robust as it progresses. If you would like to check it out, be sure to visit the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. To learn more about the new features, check out the Israel Antiquities Press Release.

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Free Tel Aviv University MOOC: The Fall & Rise of Jerusalem

This Fall, Tel Aviv University will be offering a free MOOC about the period of Juda under Babylonian rule (the period of exile) during the 6th century. The course will be taught by Professors Oded Lipschits, Ph.D. and Ido Koch, Ph.D. The course description is as follows:

The period of the demise of the Kingdom of Judah at the end of the sixth century B.C.E., the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, the exile of the elite to Babylon, and the reshaping of the territory of the new province of Judah, culminating at the end of the century with the first return of exiles – all have been subjects of intense scrutiny in modern scholarship. This course takes into account the biblical textual evidence, the results of archaeological research, and the reports of the Babylonian and Egyptian sources and provides a comprehensive survey and analysis of the evidence for the history of this 100-year-long era. The course includes a detailed discussion by Prof. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, with guest lectures by leading scholars dealing with the archaeological and biblical aspects of this debated topic.

You can also see a video course description here:

As a MOOC, the course is offered entirely free of charge. To enroll in the course, please check out the Coursera page here. You can also learn more about the course and the professors leading it on this article by Biblical Archaeology Review.

Google Makes Dead Sea Scrolls Available Online

Qumran cave 4, in which ninety percent of the scrolls were found. (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Qumran cave 4, in which ninety percent of the scrolls were found. (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Google paired with the Israel Antiquities Authority to publish the entirety of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls, primarily discovered in the 1940’s, are documents of both historical and religious significance. The scrolls, which date to the fourth and fifth centuries CE, are the earliest surviving copies of biblical and peri-biblical documents in existence.

“The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library offers an exceptional encounter with antiquity. Using the world’s most advanced imaging technology, the Digital Library preserves thousands of scrolls fragments, including the oldest known copies of biblical texts, now accessible to the public for the first time.” — Statement on the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Library website.

Visitors can browse the collection by geography (archaeological site at which they were found), language (my Aramaic is a bit rusty I must admit), or by topic (scripture, history, etc). The collection includes detailed information on the history and provenance of the texts.

Ossuary Find Could Prove to be Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Christianity

A recent find by archaeologists during a tomb exploration in Jerusalem uncovered what could be the earliest archaeological evidence for Christianity in Jerusalem. One ossuary, an object similar to a coffin or sarcophagus, contains a four line Greek Inscription that refers to God “raising up” someone. An ossuary next to it depicts an inscription of an individual in the mouth of a large fish – perhaps a reference to the Biblical figure Jonah, akin to other examples of early Christian art.

The ossuaries have been sent to the Israeli State Collection and are waiting authentication. If the ossuaries prove to be authentic (there are many fakes, most famous the Jesus Ossuary and the James Brother of Jesus Ossuary), then they would represent (by centuries) the earliest evidence for Christianity. The objects would predate the gospels by centuries.

To read more about the discovery, see the article in Science Daily or on Discovery News.

What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Google, in conjunction with the Israeli Museum, has made a chunk of the Dead Sea Scrolls available online. You can view the the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls here.

However, while many people have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, few actually know what they are or why they are important.

This month’s Biblical Archaeology Review highlights the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls including who wrote them, where they were placed, how they were discovered, and their relevance to Biblical Scholars.

Read more in their article “Where Were the Dead Sea Scrolls Found and Who Put Them There?”

Stanford University – the Historical Jesus

An amazing look at the historical figure that was Jesus Christ. Leading New Testament Scholars and Biblical Historians present this Stanford Continuing Education course. You can download the lectures free on iTunes U at this link.

This is an interesting over-view of a potentially controversial topic – addressing the historical, rather than religious, view a man who has impacted civilizations, kings, and empires.