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Scroll Fragments Could
'Shed Light' on O.T. Text


BY BENJAMIN HAWKINS                                                                                                     ©2012 Baptist Press

The potential contribution to Dead Sea Scroll scholarship of nine scroll fragments owned by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was underscored when several SWBTS professors discussed their research to date during the Society of Biblical Literature's 2011 meeting in San Francisco.

"Southwestern's scrolls contain readings of Old Testament passages that are nowhere else attested," Ryan Stokes, assistant professor of Old Testament, noted after the SBL's three-day mid-November meeting. "We are just beginning to comprehend their importance for the field, but we expect them to shed light on how we came to have the Old Testament text that we have today."

Southwestern Seminary currently houses the largest collection of fragments owned by an institution of higher education within the United States. The seminary will host an exclusive exhibit of the scrolls from July 2, 2012, to Jan. 11, 2013. To learn more about Southwestern Seminary's exclusive "Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible" exhibit, visit http://seethescrolls.com.

At the SBL meeting, Southwestern professors introduced the scroll fragments to the academic community, demonstrating the seminary's commitment to contribute to the field of biblical scholarship.

Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of Southwestern's Tandy Institute for Archaeology, introduced the session focusing on the scroll fragments.

In addition to Stokes, Southwestern faculty members who presented research were George Klein, professor of Old Testament; Eric Mitchell, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology; Ishwaran Mudliar and Joshua Williams, assistant professors of Old Testament.

Ortiz said scholars at SBL noted the potential contribution that Southwestern's scroll fragments have for Dead Sea Scroll scholarship.

"The accumulation of data and how it was presented showed that these were some important fragments," Ortiz said. Southwestern's professors displayed an in-depth knowledge of the particular fragments they researched, Ortiz said, as well as setting forth the implications the fragments have for a broader field of research.              

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