Keith Hunt - Bible - How it came to be - Page Five   Restitution of All Things

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Bible - How it came to be

A detailed look at how the Bible was preserved


                           Part 5

                THE TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

WE CONTINUE HERE WITH CHAPTER 8 FROM THE BOOK "HOW WE
GOT THE BIBLE" BY NEIL LIGHTFOOT. All emphasis throughout this
series is by Keith Hunt.

     
                    The Dead Sea Scrolls


     (Note:  Much new insight and research has developed in the
last number of years concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Many more
scholars from around the world have been busy trying to fit them
all together.  The work of the past, often done by only a few
scholars[they wanted to hang on to them like a winning lottery
ticket] has been showed to be full of errors and mistakes. 
Interesting as this many be, all of that does not really concern
us in this study of the Hebrew OT manuscripts.  What Lightfoot
brings out is of importance as it pertains to the Isaiah scrolls
found among the so called Dead Sea Scrolls - Keith Hunt).

                                     
Lightfoot:

     In March of 1948 the discovery of some ancient manuscripts
found in the vicinity of the Dead Sea was first reported....since
the first news of those scrolls, numerous others have been
located in the same region. In all about 350 rolls, most of them
fragmentary, have been uncovered(Note: this book being written in
the early 60's it is probably a lot more than 350 that have been
discovered now, in 1997 - Keith Hunt).
     These scrolls were produced by a deeply religious community
of Jews who had taken up their station in the desert........Many
of the scrolls concern only the particular beliefs of the sect,
yet there are many others which contain the text of fragmentary
portions of the OT. Actually, fragments of ALMOST EVERY BOOK of
the OT have turned up.......


     THE MOST IMPORTANT OF THESE MANUSCRIPTS ARE TWO SCROLLS OF
THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.  One is COMPLETE, except for a FEW words, and
is known as Isaiah A;  the other one, known as Isaiah B, is NOT
complete, but contains a considerable portion of material (Isaiah
chapters 41 to 59).
     
     The AMAZING story of these manuscripts is bound up with
their AGE. Isaiah A dates back to 100 B.C. or earlier, while
Isaiah B is but a little later.  HERE ARE SCROLLS THAT ARE A
THOUSAND YEARS EARLIER THAN THE OLDEST OF OUR PREVIOUS HEBREW
MANUSCRIPTS!
     WHAT DO THE SCROLLS REVEAL ABOUT OUR TEXT? HOW DO THEY
COMPARE WITH THE MANUSCRIPTS OF THE MASSORETIC TEXT from which
they were separated by so many centuries?  Do these newly
discovered manuscripts demand such CHANGES in the text that
require also changes in our faith?
     
     The scrolls tell us much, but chiefly that there has
SCARCELY BEEN, AT LEAST SINCE THE FIRST OR SECOND CENTURIES B.C.,
A MAJOR CHANGE IN THE FORM OF THE HEBREW TEXT, as Professor F.F.
Bruce expresses it, " the new evidence confirms what we had
already good reason to believe - that the Jewish scribes of
the early Christian centuries copied the text of the Hebrew Bible
with the UTMOST FIDELITY " (F.F. Bruce, Second Thoughts on the
Dead Sea Scrolls - Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing
Company, 1956 - pages 61-62).

     (Note: Lightfoot goes on to tell us that the Isaiah A scroll
became known in time for the Revised Standard Version of 1952 to
take it into account. With Isaiah A in hand they only adopted 13
variant readings as contrasted to the Massoretic text, and Millar
Burrows, a member of the translating committee, a first-rank
scholar and authority on the scrolls, later confessed that he
personally felt that some of the departures from the Massoretic
text were a mistake[Millar Burrows, The Dead Seas Scrolls - New
York: Viking Press, 1955, page 305] - Keith Hunt).

     AS A WHOLE the text of these ancient scrolls are REMARKABLY
LIKE