Outside experts said the finding was important, even though older Hebrew bibles do exist.Bring it on!
“It is fairly big news,” said James Aiken, a lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament studies at Cambridge University. “Hebrew scholars get excited by very small things, but it certainly is important and clearly looks like a very beautiful scroll.”
‘Hebrew scholars get excited by very small things, but it certainly is important and clearly looks like a very beautiful scroll’
However, Giovanni Garbini, a leading expert on ancient Semitic languages and retired professor at Rome’s La Sapienza university, said the discovery doesn’t change much about what the world knows about Hebrew manuscripts.
“It’s an example of an ancient scroll, but from the point of view of knowledge, it doesn’t change anything,” he said in a telephone interview.
But Stephen Phann, acting president of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem and an expert in ancient Jewish manuscripts, said if accurately dated, the scroll is a rare and important find. “We don’t have anything much from that period,” Phann said.
There are far older scraps of Torah scrolls that can be dated back to the 8th century, but Phann said it was rare to find a complete manuscript.
The find was also emotionally important, he said because the scroll, as opposed to a bound book, is used for reading Torah portions throughout the year in synagogue.
“It’s almost a friendship — that they have come to know the Torah scroll in their midst, and they draw their knowledge and focus on worship on how they live their daily life,” Phann said.
Perani said it remains a mystery how the scroll came to be part of the Bologna university library but that he anticipated further study would now begin.