>The Dead Sea Scrolls – Cain and Abel

>The National Geographic Society is announcing two special programs that are of interest to students of the Old Testament. The following is the press release from the National Geographic Society:



Back-to-Back One-Hour Specials Delve into Ancient Writings
That Still Speak to the Modern World

(WASHINGTON, D.C. — March 6, 2007) It is one of the most important archaeological finds of modern times, still stirring debate and discussion among scholars. And to the major religions of the world, it is the story of the first murder and, thus, the first death. On Sunday, March 11, 2007, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) premieres back-to-back one-hour specials that delve into controversial biblical mysteries that still resonate today. Decoding the Dead Sea Scrolls, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and Cain and Abel, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, are both programs that give us insight into the world as it was during a pivotal time in history, when two religions parted ways and changed the course of time forever. Scientists and theologians close to the projects continue to discuss their meaning in today’s world.

Decoding the Dead Sea Scrolls
Sunday, March 11, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (World Premiere)
“The Dead Sea Scrolls are part of the greatest treasures, not only of the Jewish nation, but actually of mankind.” — Adolpho Roitman, Curator

Comprised of more than 900 manuscripts and tens of thousands of brittle fragments, the Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest known collection of biblical texts, which contain not only representations of the Jewish and Christian Bibles, but also unknown psalms, random apocalyptic musings and even a treasure map. Interestingly, they also include information on the rituals and tenets of a mysterious monastic sect that many scholars believe authored the Scrolls.

The special examines the modern-day impact of these ancient treasures, and how 60 years after their discovery, they are still revealing new clues and shedding new light on the world into which Jesus Christ was born. Join NGC as we trace the steps of their discovery by Bedouins in 1947 in Judean desert caves just as the country of Israel was fighting for recognition and survival; through the illegal buying and selling of fragments on the black market; and eventually to the museum in Jerusalem where they remain today.

Featuring interviews with renowned scientists and conservators, this one-hour special also examines the extraordinary efforts being made to preserve these priceless writings before they disintegrate and their secrets disappear forever. In particular, one scientific team is using the latest infrared and computer imaging technology to literally spell out this 2,000-year-old mystery one letter at a time.

Experts featured in The Dead Sea Scrolls include Michael Baigent, author and commentator on ancient religions; Dr. Eric H. Cline, archaeologist, George Washington University (Washington, D.C.); Hanan Eshel, archaeologist, bar Ilan University (Israel); Robert Feather, metallurgist and religion scholar; Katharina Galor, archaeologist, Brown University (Rhode Island); Dr. Oren Gutfeld, archaeologist, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Jodi Magness, archaeologist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Yuval Peleg, archaeologist; Stephan Pfann, president, University of the Holy Land of Jerusalem; Adolpho Roitman, curator, The Shrine of the Book, The Israel Museum (Jerusalem); Pnina Shor, archaeologist, Israel antiquities authority; Emanuel Tov, editor-in-chief, Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project; and Dr. Bruce Zuckerman, director of the West Semitic Research Project and the Hebrew Bible, University of Southern California at Los Angeles.

Cain and Abel
Sunday, March 11, at 10 p.m. ET/PT (World Premiere)
“This story is highly relevant today. It lays down the principles of war and peace, of really two different ways of approaching the world.” — Akbar Ahmed, renowned Islamic scholar

Told in just 16 lines, it is a short and enigmatic tale that has inspired philosophies of peace and nonviolence as well as justifications for hatred and bigotry throughout the centuries. Cain, a farmer, and his brother Abel, a shepherd, both make offerings to God, but Cain’s offering is rejected. Consumed with rage and jealousy, Cain kills Abel and God banishes him from Eden.

The story of Cain and Abel has posed mysteries that theologians and scholars are still debating today: Why would God prefer one brother over another? Why is Cain’s life spared after he committed such a sin? What is the “mark of Cain” that God uses to protect him – and what would Cain need protection from? In this one-hour special, biblical scholars and archaeologists trace the roots of this dark mystery back to Middle Eastern traditions and history.

Over 5,000 years ago, Egyptian pharaohs immortalized tantalizing parallels to the story of Cain and Abel in writings on tomb walls – hieroglyphics depict the murder of the god Osiris by his brother Seth. But even further back in time, in what is now Iraq, the first agricultural revolution took place, and there were great clashes between herders and farmers. Many experts believe this area of the world is where the biblical Eden actually existed. Was this the true backdrop to the tormented story of Cain and Abel? According to the Bible, Cain eventually married and built a city – the first city. Aside from a story of sin and forgiveness, is the story of Cain and Abel also really a parable about the great social and economic movement that began civilization as we know it today?

Join the National Geographic Channel as it explores the fascinating dimensions of this brutal, perplexing and haunting tale.

Experts featured in Cain and Abel include Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic Studies and professor of international relations at American University (Washington, D.C.); Osama ElShemy, archaeologist, Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt; Gary Greenberg, historian and author, 101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History; Dr. Salima Ikram, Egyptologist, American University in Cairo; Dr. Christopher Leighton, executive director, Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies; Dr. Jon Levenson, professor and Jewish scholar, Harvard University; David Rohl, Egyptologist, historian and author, Legend: The Genesis of Civilization; and Dr. Juris Zarins, professor of anthropology and archaeology, Missouri State University.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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