Azusa Pacific University announces the long-awaited formal publication of rare Dead Sea Scroll (DSS) manuscripts from its Special Collections library. In 2009, the university acquired five ancient biblical manuscripts for scholarly study and preservation for posterity. A faculty team from APU’s School of Theology has completed its systematic examination, transcription, and analysis of the 2000-year-old manuscripts. The highly anticipated official publication of these rare and fragile antiquities will appear as a volume in the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project series in 2017.
The publication was prepared in collaboration with an editorial team at Princeton Theological Seminary headed by James H. Charlesworth, Ph.D., George Collord Professor of New Testament. This volume will join other recently published volumes of Dead Sea Scroll fragments in the Schøyen and Museum of the Bible collections.
“The first volume in the Supplement Volumes of the Princeton’s Dead Sea Scrolls Project is the editio princeps of manuscripts of biblical compositions found among the Dead Sea Scrolls,” said Charlesworth. “These manuscripts were unknown and thus not included in earlier publications of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls are extremely important because they contain some different readings from those found in our Bibles. Some of these readings help us correct the texts of the Bible. Along with Professor Rietz, my associate editor, and the scholars at APU, I am excited to share these Dead Sea Scrolls with all who are devoted to our Bible and an international, multicultural audience.”
“We look forward to bringing complete information about APU’s ancient biblical manuscripts to the scholarly world,” said lead researcher William Yarchin, Ph.D., the Dean’s Endowed Professor of Biblical Studies in APU’s School of Theology. “Some of these manuscripts contain wording found in no other Hebrew manuscript, and scholars are keen to integrate that information into the existing body of biblical scholarship. It is also important to provide this material to the scholarly world in light of concerns over possible forgeries among scroll fragments that have recently come to light. One of our fragments has been carbon dated as truly ancient. So we are confident, and we fully support all future scientific studies that can help advance research in ancient manuscripts.”
Among the five ancient fragments are portions from the book of Leviticus, the book of Deuteronomy, and the book of Daniel, inscribed at about the time of Christ or within a century earlier. It is possible that the Daniel fragment owned by APU is the world’s oldest existing manuscript of Daniel 5:13-16.
Of the significant findings, „The university’s Deuteronomy 27 fragment features a unique reading in verse 4 that agrees with the Samaritan Torah. This will give scholars new insights into the relationship between Judaism and Samaritanism in antiquity,” said Karen Winslow, Ph.D., professor and chair, biblical and theological studies in the Azusa Pacific Seminary.
The Dead Sea Scrolls have been described as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever. They include the oldest biblical manuscripts in existence. Scholars credit the scrolls for increasing knowledge of the origins of Christianity and revolutionizing their understanding of Judaism. Azusa Pacific University’s five Dead Sea Scroll fragments include: 1) portions of Leviticus 10:4-7; 2) portions of Deuteronomy 8:2-5; 3) portions of Deuteronomy 27:4-6; 4) portions of Daniel 5:13-16; and 5) an unidentified fragment. All five fragments are from Qumran Cave 4. In 2010, APU held a public exhibition of these manuscripts along with other biblical artifacts from its Special Collections. Along with its Dead Sea Scroll holdings, APU oversees an archaeological excavation of the biblical site Abel Beth Maacah, a 35-acre tel in the northernmost border of present day Israel. Dig findings include a 3,000-year-old seal depicting ritualistic dance and a silver hoard likely from the late Bronze Age.