Saturday, December 22, 2012

World's Second Oldest Bible Fragment Goes Digital for Public Viewing

Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists who would have us believe there is is an international cover-up of the Bible's textual transmission headed by a cabal of steam-punk elves operating out of the Vatican basement (*cough* Jordan Maxwell), another one of the world's most ancient Bible manuscripts has been made available in high-resolution digital format on the web.  Cambridge University’s Nash Papyrus (purchased from a native Egyptian dealer in 1902 by W. L. Nash) is the second oldest Bible fragment we have besides the Dead Sea Scrolls.  William F. Albright dated the paleographic evidence to the Maccabean period between 169-37 B.C.(1)  The Nash Papyrus contains Exodus 20:2-17 and the Shema from Deuteronomy 6.4.

Nash Papyrus/ Photo:Wiki Commons
By far, the oldest Bible texts we have are known as the Silver Amulets, found in a grave in Jerusalem and dated to the mid-seventh century.  They contain a copy of the priestly benediction similar to Numbers 6.22-27 and were likely used as apotropaic charms.

Anyone can view the Dead Sea Scrolls in high-quality digital format online here

The 1,000 year old Masoretic Aleppo Codex can be viewed digitally online in a very cool interface here

(1) Quoted from Paul D. Wegner, The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible, (Michigan, Baker Academic, 1999), 185.

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