Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The fabulous library
Scrolls from the Dead Sea. And he got assigned to man two spirits which he should walk until the time of his visitation. They are the spirits of truth and perversity. Truth born out of the spring of light perversity from the well of darkness. The dominion of all the children of righteousness is in the hands of the Prince of light. The children of perversity. In the hands of the angel of the dark. This excerpt is from an ancient school of rules and regulations inscribed on a sheepskin parchment rolled into a school sealed in a jar. And about the time of Christ. Placed in a cave overlooking the Dead Sea near Jerusalem. We don't know who put it there but it's probable that one day in the fateful spring of 68
A.D. as the Roman legions wept down in Jerusalem. It was in a jar. And hidden in a cave. Which gave it refuge for almost 2000 years. In one thousand forty seven the school another important documents were discovered. They were found by a shepherd boy searching for a lost goat. The fabulous library program two schools from the Dead Sea produced by radio station WAGA at the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters in 1947. Several ancient parchment scrolls were found in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea. Scholars later found that some of the scrolls were biblical manuscripts. Old Testament fragments believed to be over 2000 years old. Other scrolls were
non-biblical in content and dealt with various phases of life in a religious community living in a monastery now known as care about Coomera. Since 1947 the work of studying and translating these scrolls has been carried on by a team of international scholars and theologians. One of the men studying the Dead Sea Scrolls is Dr. Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Recently Dr. Mansoor traveled in Europe Israel and America collecting documentary materials for these programs. He tape recorded interviews with over 25 leading scholars and theologians. And now back at the University of Wisconsin Dr. Mansoor has planned and written this series of programs. Professor Mansoor in my last talk I said that the original seven scrolls found in Cave 1 3 went to the Hebrew University and the remaining four went first to Bethlehem antique
dealer who later sold them to the Syrian are special of cent marks monastery in Jerusalem. The archbishop himself was no Hebrew scholar. He therefore sought the help of biblical scholars in their locality. Among them Dr. John C. Trevor now a professor of religion at Morris Harvey college and Dr. William Brown day of Duke University. Both were then working at the American School of Oriental research in Jerusalem. This of course was a very exciting moment for these two young men. Engine biblical manuscript probably pre-Christian had literally been delivered to their doorstep. But let's hear about this experience from Dr. Trevor himself who was the first American scholar to see them. Here is his description of these events as he recorded them for this broadcast. Really I think the story is almost too well-known for me to repeat but perhaps I can give just the
essential detail. It all happened as far as I was concerned. In February of 1948 I was a Fellow of the American School of Oriental research in Jerusalem. Dr. William Brownlee and I were left alone in the school when the director of the school left for a trip to Baghdad on February 15. And when I was studying in my room when our cook Omar asked me to answer the telephone. Father Boutros only it seems of the Syrian Orthodox monastery in the Old City of Jerusalem was calling to find out about the manuscript of which he claimed to have been in the library for some 40 years. I was puzzled by his description of the manuscript. So I decided to invite him over to the school to give me a look at the manuscript. Father saw me and his brother Ibrahim came to the school the next afternoon and it was then I had my first chance to see the now famed document. There were five leather scrolls in a little satchel he brought the largest one was more pliable than the rest. So I
began to unroll it on my bed very carefully. I was amazed to see a script which puzzled me. It was not like any Hebrew script I had ever seen. My curiosity was aroused at once a reference to some slides on the history of the text of the Old Testament soon brought me to the Nashville pirates considered by many scholars to be the only fragment of a Hebrew biblical manuscript. It was too small to help much but in my magnifier I noted a few similarities to the script of the scroll lying on my bed. The Syrians in the meantime gave me a guarded story about the discovery of the scrolls but did refer to their having been discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea. But they insisted the scrolls had been in their possession for some 40 years. Soon I found that the large scroll was Isaiah and my imagination a sort of flame with the possibilities that this might be the oldest Bible manuscript in existence. Within two days Dr. Browning and I were convinced this was true even before I was
convinced of the antiquity of the scrolls However I determined that they must be fully photographed and soon convince the Syrians that it should be done in the next weeks until the conditions in Palestine forced us to leave were spent at this task. Thus began the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls for me. The photos which Dr. Brownlee and Dr Trevor made of their scroll were sent to Dr. William F. Albright of Johns Hopkins University the world's leading authority on biblical archaeology. The photos were flown to Baltimore and Dr. Albright after studying them had no doubts whatsoever and through siesta Kalie he cabled back heartiest congratulations. What an absolutely incredible find. Indeed the greatest manuscript discovery of our times. As soon as the news of the scrolls and the almost legendary tales of their value had spread about 700 of the Bedouin in southern Palestine began to search the other
caves in the Dead Sea region. There are hundreds of caves in these hills. The Bedouin nevertheless searched almost every cave in the area. According to a rough estimate over two hundred fifty caves were excavated 11 of which produced more scrolls. These Bedouin have constantly turned up in Bethlehem's bustling market square operated the Church of Nativity with thousands of leather fragments. Here is the story of the transactions which took place around the fragments. Since trade in Jordan antiquities outside government supervision is strictly prohibited. A thriving black market in scrolls secretly developed here were the collectors and curios seekers had little difficulty in making contacts with the agents for the Bedouins in the cafes and souvenir shops which lined the Bethlehem Square. The private social clubs in the buildings above the shops and cafes have often offered a convenient
location for further negotiation. It's reasonable however to assume that the Bedouin have sold all their fines to an Arab called Calio Shaheen who acted as their trusted agent and who paid them with the Jordan authorities unofficial consent. A substantial and fixed price for scrolls and scroll fragments. This fixed price was computed according to square inches at the rate of one pound sterling about two dollars eighty cents per square inch with a bonus for larger scrolls and those in exceptionally good preservation. This offer was made to prevent the fragments from being torn into two or three pieces by the Bedouin. Now before I go on to the fascinating story of the excavations at the monastery of Kara Beth let's just summarize what the Bedouins found in their further searches among the dead sea hills in the spring of 1952.
The Bedouin efforts culminated in the discovery of another cave known today as cave for about half a mile from cave one. This contained even larger quantities of biblical scrolls than the original cave. From this cave alone have come several thousand fragmentary manuscripts. Most of them Biblical with the remainder Jewish apocryphal and liturgical literature of the last two centuries B.C. the most exciting discovery of the expedition occurred in March 1950 to hard up against the wall of the cave near the entrance they discovered two separate copper scrolls about which we'll devote one of our later programs. All these discoveries have not only kept this quarterly world bustling with speculation but have served to revitalize public interest in the ancient sources of both the Old and New Testaments. For it had been believed that no further engine biblical manuscripts could be expected to turn up in Palestine.
The discovery of so many within so few years has therefore come as a bewildering surprise. Scholars working on these fragments expressed their opinion that there are the remains of a library of about 400 different scrolls had all the manuscripts been intact. We would have an amazing library of immeasurable significance to scholars theologians and Bible students. We would have a fair cross-section of Hebrew books in circulation during the last two centuries before Christ. The total value of the scrolls which have been found is now estimated at well over 1 million dollars. Before all these scrolls can be published however there must be carefully examined in order to bring together fragments of the same manuscripts. This is a slow and exacting task for the pieces vary in size from fragments containing only one word and sometimes even one letter to those having a column or two of text. The word can be likened to a
mammoth jigsaw puzzle or rather 400 different jigsaw puzzles each having the majority of its pieces missing. So you can imagine the difficulty. We must remember therefore that in the present stage of study of this cross far reaching conclusions are not to be looked for. The problems are many and very complicated and will yield only too long and remitting toil by leading scholars qualified to deal with them. One has to understand the documents well before one can speak with any assurance of their publication. When a scientist discovers a new serum or a technician builds a new plane the world rightly expects years of tests before these things are put to public us. I think if we do not exercise caution and study the text a hundred times before publicizing them we may cause more havoc than a badly constructed jet plane. This will be a spiritual and
demoralizing havoc. This is one of the main reasons why scholars are slow and cautious in their publications. Mr. Edmund Wilson suggested his book on the scrolls that Jewish and Christian scholars are hanging back in their task of translating the texts and examining the implications of this discovery because of religious beliefs they hold for fear that the belief of this supernatural character of their respective religions may be undermined. This is not true Mr. Wilson even goes as far as to mention by name some of the scholars whom he suspects. This is a regrettable and kind attack upon the integrity of the scholars concerned. Perhaps I should say here that I do not wish to minimize the importance of Wilson's contribution. He's one of the greatest literary and social critics of our time and through his article in The New Yorker in May 1955 and its reprint
as a book he has admitted least succeeded in Iraq is in more public interest in the scrolls than the host of scholars and experts managed his account of the discovery written as it is by a lay man for a layman is fascinating and superb. But his conclusion and charges against the scholars are unfounded. All scholars have rejected them as a travelled in Europe Israel and America. I often ask the scholars whom I interviewed to express their opinions of Edmund Wilson's charges. One of these scholars was Professor Jr. driver of model and college head of the department of Semitic languages at the University of Oxford. I asked if there was any truth to the charge that scholars were keeping these texts from the public. Here is Professor driver's reply as I recorded it that day in Oxford. I regard Mr Wilson's charge to some Jewish and Catholic scholars I hang back in the
task of publishing the text from fear lest it affect the uniqueness and divine character of their respective faiths as absolute nonsense. Mr. Wilson can have no idea either of the integrity of scholars all of the difficulty of the task of interpreter in these texts. That is the sole and only reason why there is delay in publishing them. Now that is one point of view by the Catholic Church was particularly criticized in the popular press about its attitude toward the dates he discovers and so I went to Rome to get the truth of this charge from the Vatican. There I interviewed father Ernest chalked rector of the Vatican Pontifical Biblical Institute. This interview was recorded in the institute itself. I first asked him if there were any reasons to fear the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here is his reply.
I do not thing so professor once when a few years ago the first inference from the scrolls about the Christianity before Christ was uttered and spread even by illustrated magazines. I received a letter from a priest who lives in the European country asking what was being done to counter this assertion. Last year after another scholar in a non scholarly way had repeated similar ideas I heard the wake of a goodly part of this rot that this aroused some virus in a few countries. But I do not think that any harm has been done. Real damage has been caused to the scholar and education of the authors of these assertions. Catholic scholars fear nothing from the dates of manuscripts on the contrary it is especially Catholic scholars more so than others who are
spending months and years in the tiresome and often enough tedious work of the ciphering and editing the thousands of fragments found in the caves near common and I was simply astonished when I saw that an author probably publicly expressed the suspicion that these scholars who had prompted the study and published the texts might be hanging back in their past for fear lest these might yield something that remembered to their faith only lack of experience and of appreciation of the difficulties involved in this kind of work could arouse such a strange suspicion. I do not know of any other equally difficult ancient document having been published as readily as the finds of come around. In a later program I'll discuss some of the dates texts which have been published and will recommend some books on the history and content of the scrolls. But
now here is another opinion on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity. This is Monsignor John Doherty professor of sacred scripture at the Immaculate Conception seminary Darlington New Jersey. I asked him if Christianity had any need to fear the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is tape recorded answer if I may I will give a personal observation on that question. Actually it never occurred to me as a Catholic that I should be worried about the scroll. The thought first came to my mind when Wright who I had to read suggested that Christians had cause to be worried about them concerned over the scroll. Did not exist in Catholic scholarly circles. The eminent father Deval for example was engaged with them from the very beginning and I'm sure he wasn't worried in popular circles
concern may have existed. If so it was due to the sensational statements about the scrolls to the effect that they would undermine Christianity. But as a matter of fact there was no real basis for such fear. Now let me finish the fascinating story of what has been found in the caves and at the site of the enchanted monastery of early 1953 it became clear that the literal settlement from which these documents originated must be excavated a combined expedition which included members of the American School of Oriental research the Jordan Department of Antiquities the French Medical School and the Palestine archaeological museum set out for this purpose. The group was headed by Father Roland the Vaio head of the Colby bleak in Jerusalem by the middle of April of 1953. Most of the work was completed. This is fortunate because at that
time of the year the heat in the wilderness becomes unbearable. But before we proceed lettuce as the leader of the expedition father Deval why he had chosen that locality the ruins of come around when we were clearing the thirst. We look at settlement. About 10 minutes of self and we tried to see if there were some connection between that settlement and the gate we found no one but the thing was still bothering us and two years later in 51 we made sounding impact building and we found partly exactly the same as in fact gave weave some cranes which gave us a first date in the first century. There is outside of their excavations have been most gratifying. Three things are now clear. There were three different periods of occupation on this site. The chief building uncovered is probably pre-Roman
life on the site was disrupted by a very serious earthquake. The whole building evidently collapsed in a great crack split the water cisterns the ground east of this crack sank nearly 16 inches an indication of the severity of the shock. It seems that the inhabitants very quickly rebuilt and reinforced the settlement and new cisterns were constructed. But the final blow to the monastery the attack by the advancing Roman legions in 60 A.D. ended its life forever as the excavators work they uncovered what appeared to be a building possibly a central meeting place for the members of the community who probably lived in caves in the hills above careful excavation then disclosed a complicated system of rooms passages stone Bab's for ritual bathing a kitchen a store room with a thousand pieces of table ware and a great hall for ritual dining and worship. Two very striking features of this building were its large cistern which might have been used for ritual baptism
and it scriptorium a room with long tables which obviously was the work room of the scribes who copied these documents. Three earthenware inkwells were also found one containing dried ink in the Scriptorium two were plastered basins where the scribes probably washed their hands before and after writing the sacred name of God most significant were three fines one and intact earthenware jar identical with those in which scrolls were found in cave one to other pottery which has been identified as specifically early Roman and three a series of coins dealing with the second year of the first Jewish revolt against Rome. That is the year sixty eight A.D.. This corresponds with the account by Josephus the famous Jewish historian of the first century A.D. that vest patron and his Roman legions reached the Dead Sea in June of sixty A.D. on their march to be
siege Jerusalem. Now there is little doubt of what had existed and what had occurred on the shores of the dates 2000 years ago. For a century or more before the Christian era a large religious community. Evidently the headquarters of a larger movement operated at Qumran several hundreds devotees inhabited the place they slept in caves in tents but ate communal meals and carried out their religious rites within the walls. It was destroyed by the Romans and six to eight A.D. a large number of graves were found and many of these have been opened. All the bodies with one mysterious exception lie with their feet pointing to the north heads to the south. The graves have no coffins No I don't mints. They are simply topped by mounds of stones perfectly aligned and intersected with paths after the fashion of modern military graveyards.
This unusual alignment is one of the many features which have led scholars to associate this sect with the pre-Christian ascetic sect known as the SCA. Almost all scholars have now fully accepted this seemingly irresistible conclusion that this ruin of Qumran was in fact an Essene monastery to which the faithful followers came in their lifetime to learn piety and then upon death to be led to eternal rest. Apparently they can run settlers had warning of the approaching Roman attack for what was probably their most precious possession their library of holy scrolls was hidden away in nearby caves some scrolls there wrapped carefully in linen and stored in pottery jars. Others were merely stacked in a hurry on the floor of the caves. Members of the sect who survived the destruction probably fled and never returned to collect their precious scrolls.
That's all knowledge of their hiding places was lost. And throughout the centuries which followed spring rains and desert sand storms in the summer combined to bury any evidence of the existence of this settlement and its library. Under such circumstances excavations take a very long time especially so at Qumran where the desert climate does not permit to work the air around and so they work at Conran which was begun in 1953 is still going on. Recently Mr. Harding of the Jordan Department of Antiquities took Mr. Geoffrey Brighton of the BBC to the site of the Kormoran excavations and Mr. Bryson small portable tape machine. Mr. Harding recorded a description of the monasteries main building. Here is Mr. Harding describing what he sees as it stands in the ruins of credit. When I was standing on top of the watch tower from which we can indeed get a very good
idea of the whole building there to the east is the cemetery some twelve hundred odd graves of which we've excavated a quite a number now in the room immediately to the west of that. We found a large hoard of silver coins some five hundred seventy four of them hidden away under the floor of the room in three small pots. They were strange enough hidden just inside the doorway which is a very improbable place for somebody living in the to have hidden them so we consider that they were hidden there as a time when the monster it self was in ruin for a short time somewhere between 31 B.C. and five B.C.. Also all around us now you can see a great number of systems some very large indeed. We had to rely entirely on rain for their water supply and so needed naturally a very large storage space for same and indeed some of the systems are 20 feet deep and about 40 feet square. Enormous things and very great work.
This then is her bed Camaron engined monastery of an ancient religious sect which lived out its history on the shores of the Dead Sea. This is a fascinating story a mystery tale. Over 2000 years old scholars the world over will be kept busy for a generation or more studying and discussing the contents and significance of these unique documents. Their work is continuously progressing and as each week passes a document is added to the list. Can you imagine the excitement when a scholar pounces an a tiny piece for which he has been looking for days or weeks or perhaps a year. The excitement grows and the knowledge of this little community of the faithful their hopes and fears their faith and trust in God is much extended. Next week I'll take up the interesting problem of dating these scrolls. This is a question over which there has been much discussion and heated controversy.
Perhaps it has been debated too much. Nevertheless the battle of the dating is the topic for our next program scrolls from the Dead Sea program to in a series of documentary explorations of the greatest archaeological discovery of the century. These programs are produced by radio station WAGA of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. The planning writing and narration is by Dr. Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. These programs are distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end of the Radio Network.
- Scrolls from the Dead Sea
- The fabulous library
- Producing Organization
- University of Wisconsin
- WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- The story of the excavation of the monastery of Qumran and further discoveries.
- Series Description
- The story of the Dead Sea Scrolls, featuring interviews with 30 leading scholars, scientists, archeologists and theologians.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Composer: Voegeli, Don
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Speaker: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Speaker: Schmidt, Karl
Speaker: Driver, Godfrey Rolles, 1892-1975
Speaker: Trevor, John C.
Speaker: Vogt, Ernst, 1903-1984
Speaker: Daugherty, John
Writer: Mansoor, Menahem
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-21-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The fabulous library,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-m61bq867.
- MLA: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The fabulous library.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-m61bq867>.
- APA: Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The fabulous library. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-m61bq867