Firpo Files 12-27-12
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The Dead "See" Scrolls

Proof of Jesus Series: Article 12

The Firpo Files Newsmagazine

(December 27, 2012)

Critics of the Bible believe that Jesus of Nazareth is about as real as are Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. However, overwhelming evidence in the form of ancient manuscripts argue for a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Earlier this month (December 2012) I visited the Dead Sea in Israel for the third time in 25 years. Situated at about 1,300 feet below sea level, not only is it the lowest spot on the earth's surface but its name extends to Biblical scrolls found in 1947 in the nearby caves of Qumran.

Bedouin tribes who have been desert herders from the time of ancient Egypt, and who I saw on this trip, discovered certain scrolls and brought them to Jerusalem to Biblical scholar and archaeologist John C. Trever, 32.

He had received a degree from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies from Yale Graduate School, and was engaged in post-doctoral studies in archaeology at the American Schools of Oriental Research.   

Starting in 1989 I had the privilege of working closely with Prof. Dr. Trever (1916-2006) who, although being identified as making "the greatest manuscript discovery of modern time" by noted scholar William F. Albright, became infamously known for having "presumptuously" announced the great discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the world.

Until the day he died he was persona non grata in Israel, and was a virtual outcast among certain ones of his contemporaries--attributable primarily to professional jealousy. These and other intriguing details aside, Trever, Albright, and other historians, scholars, archaeologists, and scientists believe a historical Jesus of Nazareth factors prominently into the Scrolls. He's perceivable in the Dead "See" Scrolls!           

Communist Bible Manuscripts?: In January 1989, in an unprecedented move, the communist government of the USSR allowed me to take--for the first time ever--color photos of pages from the oldest most complete Hebrew Bible in the world, the Codex Leningrad B19a. "Carr was able to get first crack at the codex in early 1989," says the August 4, 1990, Los Angeles Times article that covered the story. 

While working in concert on a special project with UCLA and the IBM Scientific Center to digitize my photos (unheard of at the time in 1989), I planned a second trip to the Soviet Union.

The Times article continues: "Carr will also be photographing a 1,074-year-old partial manuscript of the Hebrew Bible and filling various scholarly requests, such as recording documents on church councils for medieval specialists at Stanford University."

Time and space won't allow me to explain how the communist government of the USSR came to possess ancient Bible manuscripts and other documents on church councils.

The point? Well, like the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls, the 1,000-year-old Russian-owned codex contains the complete book of Isaiah, which Jesus recognized as containing prophecies he was to fulfill. 

The Isaiah Scroll: Aside from Moses, no other prophet is quoted more often by Christian Bible writers than the prophet Isaiah. Trever's photos of the ancient Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah is proof conclusive that Isaiah was as real as his writings--and a real Jesus read from those writings. One source states:

"The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah was made of 17 parchment strips, totaling approximately 24 feet [7 m] in length in its present state of preservation. The scroll of Isaiah that Jesus used in the synagogue in Nazareth may have been of a similar length.-Luke 4:16, 17.

"With regard to this account, Alan Millard says in his book Discoveries From the Time of Jesus: ‘The reader held the book [scroll] and unrolled it with his left hand, taking the outer edge in his right and rolling it again as he read, column by column. To reach Isaiah 61, the chapter he read in the synagogue, Jesus would have unrolled most of the scroll and re-rolled it again.'

"At that time, there were no chapter and verse divisions for the book of Isaiah as we know them today. When the scroll of Isaiah was handed to Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth, he had to locate the passage that is now marked as Isaiah 61:1, 2 in our Bibles." Jesus concluded: "Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled."--Luke 4:21, New World Translation.

The confluence of the above details constitutes significance. We can extrapolate from the Dead Sea Scrolls (and the archaeological reality of ancient Nazareth!) that Jesus was real. A blind man can "see" it. (Matthew 9:1-41) Stay tuned.