Dead Sea or not the Dead Sea?
October 4 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Dead Sea or not the Dead Sea? | Friday, Oct. 4, 2002

Friday, Oct. 4, 2002

Dead Sea or not the Dead Sea?

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

When shopkeeper Khalil Iskander Shahin, better known as "Kando," presented ancient fragments of parchment and bone to Paige and Dorothy Patterson, he said they came from Qumran, where virtually all of the texts discovered were written in Hebrew.

No one had made a serious effort to read the fragments until recently, however. After the Pattersons granted the Biblical Recorder permission to photograph and publish pictures of the artifacts, we asked experts at Duke University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem to examine them.

Specialists at both universities agree that fragments are important finds, but question the accuracy of Kando's identification. A preliminary analysis showed that the parchment text is written in an atypical Greek script, rather than in Hebrew.

Leading Greek epigrapher Hannah Cotton, editor of Scripta Classica Israelica and a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, suspects that the artifacts date from the early second century, A.D. - more than a century later than most of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The fragments may have come from Nahal Hever or Wadi Muraba'at, other desert caves that have yielded ancient texts. A preliminary examination revealed no clear names, dates or institutions that might give obvious clues to the fragment's background.

While the handwriting on the parchment is fairly clear, the skull fragment is much harder to decipher, and may include cryptic symbols of unknown import.

With this publication, the fragments become available for scholarly study. The Biblical Recorder will provide a follow-up article if more information about the text fragments becomes available.

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10/4/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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