New Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced on March 16, 2021 that archaeologists have discovered new fragments of biblical books in a remote cave in the Judean desert. Archaeologists discovered portions of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, including fragments of the books of Zechariah and of the prophet Nahum.

These recent discoveries are the first discovery of biblical fragments since the Dead Sea Scrolls were found almost 60 years ago. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in caves in the Judean desert in 1947. The manuscripts found in the area of the Dead Sea were one thousand years older than the best preserved biblical manuscript at the time of the discovery.

New Dead Sea Scrolls Fragment

One of the texts discovered by the archaeologists is a Greek version of Nahum 1:5–6. The translation of the fragment reads as follows:

The mountains quake because of Him, And the hills melt. The earth heaves before Him, The world and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His wrath? Who can resist His fury? His anger pours out like fire, and rocks are shattered because of Him.

In comparison, the same text reads as follows in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV):

The mountains quake before him, and the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who live in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and by him the rocks are broken in pieces.

Another fragment found by archaeologists was a text from Zechariah 8:16-17, also in Greek. The fragment reads as follows:

These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate – declares the Lord.

In comparison, the same text reads as follows in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV):

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the LORD.

The slight difference between the fragments and the Masoretic Text reveals that the biblical text probably went through a process of redaction and that the final form of the text may have a few differences from its earliest form.

Read more about the discovery of the text in the following publications:

The New York Times and The Jerusalem Post.

The New York Time has provided a short video (after the commercial) about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls fragments.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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This entry was posted in Archaeology, Book of Nahum, Book of Zechariah, Dead Sea Scrolls and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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