Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Do Bogus Assertions Like These Result From Ignorance or Deceit?

Rev. Mark H. Creech: The significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls should never be underestimated. They answer one of the most critical questions of life: How do we know the Bible we have today has been passed down to us accurately — and is its message trustworthy?

Until these texts became available, the oldest Hebrew Old Testament text in existence dated back to A.D. 800. No original manuscripts of the Bible exist today, so the next best thing is to go back to the oldest copies that would be closest to the originals. The Dead Sea Scrolls allow for that because they are 800-1,000 years older than previously known manuscripts.

What the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts clearly demonstrate is that through about a thousand years there was essentially no significant alteration in the text. The scribes who transcribed the text of the Bible were so meticulous — they had such high standards of accuracy, counting every word and every letter of every word, dotting each "i" and crossing each "t," so to speak — that one may be absolutely certain the Old Testament text available to scholars today is in essence the same as the originals. The Dead Sea Scrolls are an incontrovertible archaeological confirmation that this is the case.



What poppycock! In fact, the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrate just the opposite. Here's what a critical (as opposed to a "faithful) scholar has to say on this subject:

"The biblical manuscripts from Qumran, which include at least fragments from every book of the Old Testament, except perhaps for the Book of Esther, provide a far older cross section of scriptural tradition than that available to scholars before. While some of the Qumran biblical manuscripts are nearly identical to the Masoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text of the Old Testament, some manuscripts of the books of Exodus and Samuel found in Cave Four exhibit dramatic differences in both language and content. In their astonishing range of textual variants, the Qumran biblical discoveries have prompted scholars to reconsider the once-accepted theories of the development of the modern biblical text from only three manuscript families: of the Masoretic text, of the Hebrew original of the Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100." (The Oxford Companion to Archeology)


For additional information on the many, many ways that the Dead Sea Scrolls' version of our Old Testament varies from that contained in our modern Bibles, simply google "Dead Sea Scrolls variant".

Rev. Creech's contention that, "[t]he scribes who transcribed the text of the Bible were so meticulous — they had such high standards of accuracy, counting every word and every letter of every word, dotting each 'i' and crossing each 't,' so to speak — that one may be absolutely certain the Old Testament text available to scholars today is in essence the same as the originals" is demonstrably and laughably false--so laughably false, in fact, that one must question whether his assertion results from merely a stunning level of ignorance on the subject, or something worse.

2 comments:

Mark said...

For comparisons regarding the Samaritan Pentateuch, see my page on the subject, and for a really detailed look, take a look here for a book that shows the comparison in bold text (this second edition is just out). Something you might find interesting.

Sorry for the commercial-comment, but it is relevant. Just in case:

ObRelevance: Although the extant Masoretic texts out there do show some variation, it is pretty astounding how little variation there is. Certainly the Masoretes and their followers took preserving the text very seriously. Even pre-Masoretic texts like the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Qumran scrolls show an impressive similarity with the familiar texts—but nowhere near a perfect one, as you correctly point out. Nor even an almost-perfect one. There are some very glaring and significant differences, even ones appearing as deliberate changes. (For that matter, Masoretic tradition says there were deliberate changes, in a bunch of places where the text was altered to avoid blasphemy, etc. Google search on אלא שכנה הכתוב and I think you'll find some)

Sean King said...

Thank you Mark. Good stuff.