Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ancient silver scroll dates to 7th century B.C.

May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face to shine upon you, and give you peace.

So reads the Priestly Benediction from the Book of Numbers, the oldest and most enduring blessing of the Jewish and Christian faith.

In 1979, Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay found two silver scrolls in an ancient Israelite tomb on a Jerusalem hillside. Inscribed on these scrolls was the ancient blessing: "May the LORD bless you. May the LORD make His face to shine upon you..." Based on his knowledge of Hebrew text, Barkay dated the scrolls to the 7th century B.C. -- making them the oldest existing evidence of Scriptural verse.

But this date was not accepted in academia until science caught up with reality. Recently, a team of American scholars proved the 7th century date: the scrolls are 2,600 years old. That's 400 years older than the Dead Sea Scrolls. A CBS article comments: "It took modern technology to prove their antiquity."
"We had one foot planted in the ancient past and one foot planted in the future," says Bruce Zuckerman with the University of Southern California.

Sophisticated computer photo-imaging revealed more of the text, allowing experts to confirm the early dating. The scrolls are believed to have been worn as amulets, containing the blessing to protect their wearers from evil.

Quite an amazing discovery! But what does it mean in terms of biblical lineage?

Frankly, it is very encouraging for scholars who are faith friendly. It moves the textual line back 400 years beyond the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were in themselves a smashing blow to liberal theories of Hebrew Scriptural development. Now we have this little inscribed silver scroll, from 400 years before, showing biblical text as reverenced tradition of the people of God.

It all points to the text as originating in a time frame as the text asserts for itself.

Which is quite wonderful...but not surprising for those who believed the claims of that text in the first place.

Forensic science and archeology team up to support faith. Who'da thunk it?


No comments: