Scroll scholars find first fragment of Nehemiah
Anyone familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls can tell you that portions of nearly every book in the Hebrew Bible are represented in these ancient texts discovered in caves near the Dead Sea.
The only exceptions were the Book of Esther and the Book of Nehemiah;* scholars assumed the latter had been written on the same scroll as the Book of Ezra (as was common) but simply hadn’t survived—until now. In a recent blog post,** Norwegian scroll scholar Torleif Elgvin of Evangelical Lutheran University College in Oslo, Norway, announced that he and colleague Esther Eshel of Bar-Ilan University will be publishing a collection of more than two dozen previously unknown scroll fragments, including the first known fragment of Nehemiah.
The scrolls in the new book come from Qumran Cave 4, Bar-Kokhba caves and Wadi ed-Daliyeh. The publication, Gleanings from the Caves (forthcoming from T&T Clark) will feature enhanced photographs of the scrolls by Bruce Zuckerman and his team,*** as well as “artifacts from the Judean Desert such as a scroll jar, a palm fiber pen, a bronze altar and inkwell.”
* See Sidnie White Crawford, “Has Every Book of the Bible Been Found Among the Dead Sea Scrolls?,”Bible Review, October 1996.
*** See Bruce Zuckerman, “Archaeological Views: New Eyeballs on Ancient Texts,” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2011.
Read more about Nehemiah in Dorothy D. Resig’s Nehemiah—The Man Behind the Wall
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