Friday, September 30, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls Online

The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever
(Isa 40:7-8).

One of the most enjoyable moments of life thus far has been visiting Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the late 1940's. The Dead Sea Scrolls, contrary to speculations from 19th century historical critics, confirmed our Masoretic Text (the Hebrew manuscripts from which your English Old Testament was translated) as reliable and therefore God's Word as accurately preserved through the centuries. It was no small find!

The year following our visit to Qumran, we were able to actually view the Dead Sea Scrolls on display in San Diego - ever the romantic, I took my wife to stare for hours at dusty old papyri and to discuss advances in biblical archaeology (she was overcome with excitement, as you can imagine).

Now, the Israel Museum (in Jerusalem) and Google have collaborated to make such an experience much easier - searchable, high-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls online in The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project!

Currently including the largest and most-known scrolls, such as the Great Isaiah Scroll (see below) and the Habakkuk pesher (i.e., Commentary on Habakkuk), this project will eventually include all the scrolls.

Even more exciting are some of the features, like searching the Isaiah Scroll which can be searched verse by verse, with an English translation just a mouse-click away! (Even if it's all Hebrew to you, scrolling through Isaiah is just plain fun).

Even though Google is slowly eating-away our brains (see here), the accessibility and usability of this resource is a real gift. And just one more testimony that the "word of our God stands forever (Isa 40:8).


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