Deciphered Dead Sea Scrolls pose questions for historians

Deciphered by Prof. Ariel and Faina Feldman, the segments written in semi-cursive script, folded and were encased in small leather remnants.

June 19, 2019 08:53
1 minute read.
Dead Sea Scroll Caves

The Dead Sea Scroll Caves in Qumran. (photo credit: Wayne Stiles)


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Two of the few remaining undechipered segments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been deciphered, more than sixty years after they were first discovered.

Deciphered by Prof. Ariel and Faina Feldman of the Texas Christian University, the segments written in semi-cursive script, folded and were encased in small leather remnants, like many examples of tefillin [phylacteries] found in the desert from the Second Temple period.

However, unlike tefillin, which contain parchments quoting the Book of Exodus or Deuteronomy, the previously undechipered writing was found found to be prayers and the names of angels, components which are consistent with Jewish amulets, which whilst using holy words, did not directly quote from the Bible. 

This has opened up the possibility to modern historians that written amulets were potentially in use in Judaism during the Second Temple era, something previously not recognized.

The scrolls, a collection of manuscripts containing biblical and extra-biblical writings were first found in 1947 by local Bedouin in the area of Qumran, near the Dead Sea

The research was published in two journals: “4Q147: An Amulet?” in the March 2019 issue of Dead Sea Discoveries and “4Q148 (4QPhylactère T): Another Amulet from Qumran?” in the May 2019 issue of The Journal for the Study of Judaism.

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