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Earliest Tanak Texts / Fragments?

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Theophilus
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Earliest Tanak Texts / Fragments?

Postby Theophilus » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:35 pm

So what is the earliest text of the Hebrew Scriptures that we have?

The most common answer that comes to mind is the Dead Sea scrolls (DSS), but recall some brief fragments of text also found in the Tanahk found on a small metalic object in Jerusalem to include a portion of Deuteronomy roughly 900 to 1000 BCE. My source was an episode of "The Naked Archeologist" but featured a professor IRRC from Hebrew University.

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-Theophilus

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Swalchy
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Re: Earliest Tanak Texts / Fragments?

Postby Swalchy » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:45 pm

Whilst I think that the DSS are certainly the largest collection of the Tanakh found in antiquity, IIRC, there are a few older Hebrew, and Greek, fragments going quite far back.

Oddly, Wikipedia has a good article on this: http://tinyurl.com/65qhwx2

Apparently the oldest known fragment of the Tanakh is a 600BCE Good-luck charm inscribed with the priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24–27.

The oldest fragments from the Greek Septuagint date to the 2nd Century BCE
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Theophilus
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Re: Earliest Tanak Texts / Fragments?

Postby Theophilus » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:57 pm

Thank you Swalchy,

Now that you describe it, I believe that you're correct on the metalic object that I was thinking of. So the gap between the estimated date of the Exodus and the earliest Torah fragments / manuscripts seems to be 800 to 1100 years removed?

It doesn't surprise me that writings from so long ago are rare and apparently pre DSS and earliest Septuagint non-existent. The limiting factors the material endurance of paper / papyrus, and animal skins as well as opponents that would like to eliminate Yah's scriptures as a competing source of divine authority.

That said, I am surprised that more fragements like the charm aren't eventually located and would wish for older sources, prehaps tablets to better establish the original autographs.

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-Theophilus

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Swalchy
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Re: Earliest Tanak Texts / Fragments?

Postby Swalchy » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:00 pm

Well we have to remember that the DSS were found in caves - so who knows what's been hidden and where. Could be some ceramic pots somewhere in the midst of Yisra'el, older than the DSS, that have just been buried deep in an underground cave or chest just waiting to be discovered.

As far as I'm concerned, I think there are a lot of things hidden deep inside the Temple Mount - unfortunately we just can't get to them, thanks to the Muslims occupying the space
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