Sunday, January 27, 2019

More on the latest Dead Sea caves expedition

OPERATION SCROLL: In the Qumran cliffs, an expedition digs up new Dead Sea Scroll caves. Winter excavation yields information on how an ascetic desert community lived and where it hid its precious sacred texts — and gives pointers for where to search next (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel). All that to say in a roundabout way that they didn't find any scrolls. So far.

A Bedouin huntsman and his dog, climbing on rocky mountainous cliffs above the Dead Sea, spotted a likely prey. The dog chased it into the mouth of a cave where inside, the Bedouin discovered jars containing scrolls with writing upon them. The find was reported to Jews living in Jerusalem, who mounted an expedition into the Judean Desert to retrieve them. They discovered many scrolls written in Hebrew script, including books of the Bible.

The year was 790 CE.

The events, recorded in a letter written by the East Syriac patriarch Timothy I in 800 CE, eerily anticipate the famous 1946 (re)discovery at Qumran of the trove of ancient sacred texts we now know as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It is possible that Cave 52 is Timothy's cave. But if so, the monks cleared out all the scrolls more than 1200 years ago.

The article also has more information on Cave 53 and a couple of videos.

Background here and links. And for more on Timothy's letter and its story, see here.

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