Scientists Read Oldest Bible Fragment. And I'm Confused.

In reading a story in The UK Independent about the oldest fragment of the Bible being found and read, I got a bit confused.

The paper says:
In ancient times, many versions of the Hebrew Bible circulated. The Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to as early as the 3rd century B.C., featured versions of the text that are radically different than today's Hebrew Bible.
But that is immediately followed up by adding:

Scholars have believed the Hebrew Bible in its standard form first came about some 2,000 years ago, but never had physical proof, until now, according to the study. Previously the oldest known fragments of the modern biblical text dated back to the 8th century.

The text discovered in the charred Ein Gedi scroll is "100 percent identical" to the version of the Book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries, said Dead Sea Scroll scholar Emmanuel Tov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the study.
"This is quite amazing for us," he said. "In 2,000 years, this text has not changed."
So was it constantly changing as the paper says or is it 100 percent identical like the quoted expert says.

Is there something I'm not seeing here?


  1. In short, the answer to your question is both/and. Plenty of philological evidence to suggest many changes over time and thus amazement at a fragment/passage that has gone unchanged.

  2. It's a matter of the reporter being ignorant, at best.

    The "Dead Sea Scrolls" do have a lot of stuff that isn't in the Bible, and which occasionally gets latched on to by folks who like what it says, love the idea of being in on a secret, or aren't familiar with the history of the documents beyond "it's in the Dead Sea Scrolls!"

    However, every time there's stuff that's found where they don't have a very good reason to believe it is highly suspect, the text ends up being in line with what the current stuff is.
    That even goes for if you get a few lines from, say, chapter 1-- and then the next bit you can reach is chapter 6, and it takes months, but it still matches the modern chapter six you expected when you read the first bit.

    Jimmy Akin did at least a post and I think a podcast/youtube video about it, I like using his stuff becausehe gives links. Link in next comment.


      Just in case this triggers the moderation system, folks will still be able to go look for the right stuff.


    2. I suggest you pray for discernment about reading ANYTHING from Jimmy Akin. This is a man who was very pro-Hilary Clinton ( = pro-death). I recommend staying far, far away from him.

  3. Oh! I forgot, there was also the convention thing in...third century?... where the current list of books used by the Jews was selected. It's sometimes mentioned as if it was a Church Council of Bishops.

    The reporter might be alluding to that, too.

    Again, from memory, they didn't CHANGE the books, they just didn't include them all. It's kind of known from the whole Protestant-bibles-are-thinner arguments.

  4. It was 2,000 years ago that Rabbi Constantine commanded that all scrolls be returned to Jerusalem and replaced with the New Standard Hebrew Bible. Since then, the text has been relatively unchanged. They teach this in History of Religious Journalism 101. I'm surprised you didn't know that...

  5. Jennifer S-
    Facts don't change by who says them. Since I specifically mentioned that he gives sources, you don't need to worry about his judgement or worthiness to rephrase things.

    Furthermore- the only thing I can find from him about the 2016 election is when he pointed out that the Clinton supporters were very nasty bullies so of course they hadn't heard a lot of Trump support. (Elephant in the room: that's what happens when you violently assault those who disagree with you.) He told them to not hate those who disagree with them, and then tacked on a paragraph that says "yeah, Trump guys, you don't hate people because of politics either, that's just dumb." (Second elephant: look how horribly it worked out for the Clinton guys.)

    Another instance of having even the slightest lack of enthusiasm for Trump being declared as "pro-Hillary"?


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