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Scrolls from the Dead Sea. When they solemnly meet at the table of communion or drink the wine and the communion table is arranged one shall not stretch out his hand on the first portion of bread or of the wine before the Messiah prays for he shall bless the first portion of the bread and the wine and shall stretch out his hand on the bread first of all. And they shall follow this prescription whenever there is a rain. When as many as ten. Meet together. This is an excerpt from one of the nearly forty thousand parchment fragments found recently in caves near the Dead Sea. We're not certain who put these documents in the caves nor what happened to their owners but it's probable that one day in the
fateful spring of sixty eight A.D. as the Roman legions swept down on the roofs of them. The documents were placed in an earthenware jar. And hidden in the caves which gave them refuge. We're almost 2000 years. These groups recently comprise 20th century scholarships most fascinating and momentous find. The battle of the dating program free of scrolls from the Dead Sea. A radio exploration of the most significant archaeological find of our time. These programs are produced by Radio Station W H A of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters.
The discovery in one thousand forty seven of the Dead Sea Scrolls brought into focus for laymen the studies of biblical specialist scholars and theologians. One of these scholars is Professor Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Recently Professor 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 gauged in the work. Now back at the University of Wisconsin professor Mansoor has planned and written this series of programs exploring the meaning and content of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Professor Mansoor in previous programs I have surveyed the history of the discovery of the dates the scrolls. I have explained that seven scrolls including a complete book of Isaiah and over forty thousand fragments have been found over two hundred fifty caves have been excavated and up to date 11 of these have yielded rich material.
Today I shall discuss a very controversial problem the dating of these scrolls. And the very first announcement of the 1947 discovery sharp controversy broke out on the question of the age of the texts. A whole series of dates have been offered from the second and even third century B.C. to the Middle Ages. Almost every scholar who wrote on the scrolls in 1950 51 and 52 offered a different opinion. Only one scholar Professor Theodore gaster when asked to give his opinion on the dating declined saying well I would rather be in a cave than answer that question. Some scarse attribute this bitter controversy and difference of opinion to the notion that archaeology is an inexact science. I asked Professor alright of Johns Hopkins University to comment on this suggestion. Professor All right is generally recognized as the leading biblical archaeologist of our
time. This is his reply as he tape recorded it for me. Actually I would not agree with such a statement at all. Archaeology is inexact in certain fields or departments but there's not a single science which is exact in all its branches. I consider a few of archaeology and care for interpretation of archaeological results strictly on a level with most of the biological sciences in precision. The difficulty is that these planes were prime Kalie unexpected and improbable in themselves you might say since no archaeologist expected them to be made certain that people who are con genital least press a mystic just wouldn't believe them. As Professor Albright points out many scholars who have no archaeological
background have ventured opinions on the dating of the data scrolls. Some unfriendly wars have taken place back of the most extreme of these is Professor Solomon Zeitlin of dropsy college in Philadelphia and authority on post biblical and rabbinical literature and a very sound Hebrew scholar. He questioned the date of the scrolls before even seeing photographs of them and has violently attacked the whole thing as a forgery. Professor Seidlin simply will not accept their antiquity. Ever since the discovery was announced he has insisted that the story of their discovery is fictitious and that the whole affair is a hoax. He charged that the manuscripts were part of the loot of the Hebron synagogue in the Arab pogrom of 1929. But let us examine Professor Titan's views as presented by Professor Seidlin himself. Here he is as he was tape recorded in Philadelphia.
It is my conviction that deep radio did Dead Sea Scrolls is not their method to be decided over there. However in view of the popular interest and public request that some of my contentions are Guinn's that Binions or scholar that these scrolls were indeed preclusion times to be made clear. I vish to present at these time just a few of my arguments which to my mind demonstrate conclusively that ideas Croes boss had been written sometime in the Middle Ages and the phrase placed in finding the scrolls taverns and expressions that you know positively when not used in the creation period they were actually coined in the Middle Ages in the second place. References are found in this crawls to Jewish laws. We should end this student who knows the development of Jewish law could
immediately recognize that they were enacted in botched late that period then the Christian. Problem or it in script indicates clearly that these calls varied in a much later period. I defend in particular to the use of prentices ellipses and connecting lines all of each writer used in rather late times. So far a script out of college is concerned it's these entirely irrelevant in assuming unticketed use cross because this close friend not discovered by our colleges the event brought to the arts a bishop in the back in paper cotton test used these collars present as valid evidence from down deep roots of the scrolls can not be taken seriously. Phrased the current test was not made on the mana screens but on the linen wrappings reached
out into America and claim the scrolls very fond in known of this college it's actually assault disclosing their lean on the topics. Second it is well known that many scientists maintain that a carbon 14 test is not exact nor a live one that it means to be the question why was not the carbon 14 stop light to the manuscripts themselves. I Adventists these contentions so many more and now yes these scholars who accepted young ignorant of the scrolls toward a few dead what are you to grant to say that they have not and sent my challenge I have been entirely ignored. Is this silence you today to not believe the answer. In closing I vish to emphasize as strongly as I can that these calls have absolutely in nor value for duty or for the origins of
Christianity. They are the products of semi literary people and perhaps even of people whom we should call cranks to seek to find in these clothes and Lucian's to Christianity is only to confuse and distort history. In this recording and at other times Professor Seidlin has repeatedly claimed that no scholar has refuted his arguments. He bitterly complains that he's ignored by the scholars. This is in a way true scholars have either ignored him or deliberately refused to argue with him. Professor Albright is one of Titan's chief opponents in the battle of the scrolls. So let me now present Professor Albright's opinion on the dating of the scrolls. Here is Professor Albright as he was recorded in Baltimore. Every great discovery in archaeology and related fields of the last two centuries has been considered as a complete fake
by famous scholars as well as my minor scholars at present. There is only one scholar of any repute whatsoever. I mean a scholar has written and holds a respected academic position who rejects them. So far as I know since a second scholar why did reject him a place that has been very quiet for the last two years. Not saying a word. This scholars Prosser Solomon Seidlin in Philadelphia he was a very successful many years ago in disproving the authenticity of the so-called Slavonic Josephus. So when these clothes were found he promptly denied that they were worth anything for a long time and he spoke of a hoax without explaining where they meant that there were modern forgeries or just any documents which did not belong to the time at which our
archaeologists placed them however. We now have all kinds of evidence quite outside of the content of these news grows which fixes that date. For instance radio carbon this study of carbon isotope number 14 which was Quest discovered by doctors living on Oldham in nineteen forty seven and eight has yielded some extremely interesting bait either for fixing the chronology of those crows at the time the radio carbon method had not been so refined as it is now. Recently the Pittsburgh laboratory for radiocarbon research has dated it. They had dated the Dead Sea Scrolls on the same basis that all of the linen.
Wrappings in which they were wrapped into one. Between 250 B.C. and 50 since we have not only radio carbon but also the evidence of the script which fits perfectly into just this period and into northern. And since we also have the evidence for coins which are dated and history and no other period and we also have evidence of pottery which only belongs in this period and no other period stands to reason that no archaeologist. I'm no scholar who regards archaeology as worth anything in the wild and can possibly reject the authenticity of this grows. My guess would be that 99 percent of the competent scholars who have written on the subject except David Bates which I mentioned. Professor Albright also spoke of the references in the text to names of Greek kings of the times. One of the most important fragments known as the new home commentary contains actual historical
names those of Antiochus and Demetrios who we know were Greek kings ruling over Palestine during the first century B.C. and earlier. Another eminent scholar who once dated the scrolls to the sixth century A.D. is Professor G R. driver of Oxford one of the leading biblical scholars in England. I asked him in this interview to explain the basis for his view his statement has surprised many scholars because in this interview Professor driver for the first time offered an earlier date following his further studies of these documents. Here is his present opinion as I recorded it at maudlin College in Oxford England. When I first considered the date of the scrolls I was immediately convinced that the plane that they were the second or even third century BCE was putting them too far back. I thought myself
that they might be as late as the fifth or sixth century A.D. because they show certain oddities of language which first appear in that period. The publication of further takes has convinced me that I was put the date too low and they probably belong to the first two centuries. A D I base this dodgy on one fact that the commentary on Habakkuk refers to the way to the sacrum. The fact that the enemy soldiers sacrificed to their standards. This is only known to have happened as far as I know. Once in history in the autumn of 87 when the troops of Titus burst into the temple and captured Drusilla. The answer to this has been made that the scrolls must have been finished completely finished before 87. As the cave in which they found shows no sign of habitation after that date. But the
fact of the cave was not inhabited after that date does not mean that it was not visited after that date and that the scrolls might have been deposited in it it seems to me any time between A.D. 70 when Drew Slim was first captured and A.D. 1 3 5. When it was completely destroyed that was Dr JR driver of Oxford England. But let's have another scholars opinion on the dating. Here is Professor Frank Ross Jr. of McCormick Theological Seminary and member of the international team working on this scrolls and doubtless a competent authority to discuss the age of the scrolls. Here is this tape recorded opinion of the dating controversy. My feeling is that the early dating of the scrolls has been securely established by several lines of evidence. The clearest line I feel is that of paleography the study of the type
of alphabets used in the inscribing of the manuscripts. The increase of data for such dating techniques has so expanded our knowledge of the field now that I think we are safe within 50 years. I think there can be no doubt of our dating within 100 and in some cases particularly in the later period. We can send down scripts to the generation of time perhaps. However this Paley a graphical dating which was established almost immediately by experts in the field has been confirmed throughout by other lines of converging evidence. One of those is that from archaeology. Then finally there is the internal evidence for the dating of the scrolls. What we have now rather good evidence that a number of our manuscripts in one category our autographs are original documents and therefore they lend evidence
that the events described in them give us the date of the scrolls of which we have. For example we have the names of a number of people especially those who flourished in the first century B.C. actually recorded in our documents. One is the so-called commentary on another as a kind of liturgical calendar in which a series of kings and outstanding people known elsewhere from history are named. Hence these several lines of evidence I think now confirm beyond serious doubt the early dating of the scrolls that is a dating of the majority of the scrolls in the first centuries B.C. and A.D.. Several branches of learning have combined to refute the doubters. Archaeologists have established that the jars in which the manuscripts had been stored are similar to the pottery used in the first century of the Christian era biography or the study of ancient writing has shown that the type of
script used in the scrolls also belongs to that period. To obtain an expert opinion on this last difficult issue I went to the London University's School of Oriental Studies. There I interviewed Dr. Solomon Berenbaum recognized the world over as one of the leading authorities on engined writings. Here is his opinion as I tape recorded it that day when the Kurdish girls were discovered. We were confronted with documents whose date was on such a case. The external evidence can very often be of great hope to be the present instance from the beginning. Archaeology palaeography record in it was the task of palaeography to establish what stage in the development of the Hebrew script the writing of the cave scrolls could be assigned.
The general appearance to which they belonged was unmistakable. It was to take a rather wide street somewhere in the centuries around the Christian era. This period had to be narrowed down. It was of course in the book his job to do that to do this but it enabled us to determine for the first little photos that got published showing on the call and also the approximate date when each manuscript was penned. The Pelly our record results showed that the Qur'an manuscripts do not all emanate from one in the same time the words in square script were written within a period of about two and a half centuries from the earliest second century BCE to the third quarter of the first Christianson. The findings of biographers such as Professor Birnbaum are backed
up by the findings of archaeologists coins found in abundance in the central building of the monastery and also in the caves enabled the archaeologists to determine that the monastery was begun in the late 2nd century B.C. It was occupied down to the year sixty eight A.D. in that it is probable that the Roman legions advancing on Jerusalem destroyed their settlement. The community probably fled taking with them their library which they deposited for safekeeping in nearby caves and specially constructed hiding places. Hence the scrolls themselves must be earlier than the date sixty eight A.D. The internal evidence or the evidence of the language and text in which the scrolls are written also supports this date. Support of this date is also furnished by the spelling of the text and by the shape of the letters before the regular square script became fixed in writing he wrote.
Perhaps it is relevant here to discuss the excavations at the famous engine fortress of the rock cities of the rock Citadel towering fourteen hundred feet over the western bank of the dates this heavily fortified besty and surrounded by deep chasms was built by Herod the much hated King of the first century B.C. in fear of the multitude of Jews and of Cleopatra the famous queen of Egypt about a century later defined members of the Jewish resistance took refuge at this rock of Massada after the Roman discretion after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.. Just see first this celebrated Jewish historian of the 1st century A.D. tells us that when the Roman army be seized and attacked the fortress the leader of the Jewish resistance told his followers to kill themselves by the dagger rather than fall into slavery. When the Roman
call for surrender came only two men and five children responded. Nine hundred and sixty perished by their own swords. Now this archaeological site is unique because there is no problem here in fixing its date or the dates of the objects discovered there. The first has supplied the precise date of the fall of Massada. Now you may ask what Messiah has to do here with the dates of scrolls. Well Massada was excavated in 1956 by a team of Israeli archaeologists they found a piece of pottery in a Paris fragment. Both include both inscribed in black ink and Hebrew letters very similar to those with which the dates of scrolls were written. Thus the similarity of the scrolls through these inscriptions found in Masada again support the 2nd century B.C. the first century A.D. date suggested by the scholars. However I doubt as to the
antiquity of the scrolls was finally banished completely by scientific tests conducted on the cloth in which they were wrapped. In 1951 Dr Willard F. Libby the atomic energy expert of the University of Chicago used his special radioactive carbon 14 method to test a sample of the linen in which some of the scrolls had been wrapped. Scientists say that Carbon 14 is breathed by all living plants and animals in the course of their life span with death. The intake of carbon 14 stops but the carbon 14 already in the body remains and slowly disintegrates at a constant measurable rate. Thus if the amount of carbon 14 remaining in a specimen can be accurately measured the time since it ceased to breathe can be estimated without difficulty. After burning an ounce of the scrolls
linen wrappings until it was reduced to pure carbon. Professor Libby reported that the flax from which the linen was made was alive about the 33 A.D. with a 200 year margin of possible. Either way this would place the date of the linen wrappings roughly between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.. That's that's the date accepted by most scholars were confirmed by the scientists. It is hard to believe that such scrolls could be preserved for over 2000 years yet there were two factors in the long preservation in the first place. The Dead Sea region being about eighteen hundred feet below sea level the lowest in the world enjoys an exceptionally dry climate. Second the scrolls were found in sealed and broken jars. I'd like to talk with you a moment about this custom of preserving documents in jars. It was often practiced in ancient times especially in Egypt.
The famous so called very lean Egyptian medical preparers was discovered in a jar. Greek manuscripts of the seventh century B.C. were also found in an earthen pot in Kurdistan. Moreover there is a note in origin sex opera stating that a translation of the songs together with other Hebrew and Greek manuscripts had been found in a jar near Jericho in the Talmud. The gigantic post biblical literature of the Jewish rabbis Rabbi sais that unused sacred books should be buried in jars. More interesting than that is an eighth century A.D. business letter written in Arabic and concerning the price of the jars which contain the Priory. The kind of packing charge. But we cannot get a better reference than the Bible itself. I wish to draw your attention to this wonderfully relevant and revealing verse of the Bible in which the prophet Jeremiah
Chapter 32 sais. Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel. Take these deeds of the purchase both that which is sealed and that which is open and put them in an earthen vessel that they may continue many days. Next week I shall reopen the mysterious case of a man who committed suicide eighty years ago because no one believed that some Bedouin shepherds had given him very ancient biblical scrolls which they had found in a cave in the vicinity of the dates. Scrolls from the Dead Sea. A radio exploration of the most significant archaeological find 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. Professor Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin is the planner and writer for the series. This program on the dating of the scrolls contained tape
Scrolls from the Dead Sea
The battle of the dating
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program describes how scholars arrived at the probable age of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Other Description
The story of the Dead Sea Scrolls, featuring interviews with 30 leading scholars, scientists, archeologists and theologians.
Broadcast Date
Radiocarbon dating.
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Composer: Voegeli, Don
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Speaker: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Speaker: Zeitlin, Solomon, 1886-1976
Speaker: Albright, William Foxwell, 1891-1971
Speaker: Cross, Frank Moore
Speaker: Driver, Godfrey Rolles, 1892-1975
Speaker: Birnbaum, Salomo A., 1891-
Writer: Mansoor, Menahem
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-21-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:56
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Chicago: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The battle of the dating,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2022,
MLA: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The battle of the dating.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2022. <>.
APA: Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The battle of the dating. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from