Testimonia — Dead Sea Scrolls
I have had the most amazing and incredible experience!
Last weekend on August 25 ,2007, I had the rare opportunity to view the largest single exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls ever on display – 27 of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 10 of which have never been seen publicly. The weekend was organized by Bethel Theological Seminary West, San Diego, my alma mater for my Master’s Degree. The weekend began on Friday evening at the Bethel Seminary West auditorium with a special presentation by none other than Dr. Ronald Youngblood, my Old Testament professor and one of the original translators of the NIV translation of the Bible, and Dr. Mark Strauss, New Testament professor at Bethel Seminary.
What a great presentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Dr. Youngblood and Dr. Strauss! I learned so much and took a gazillion notes. I remembered why I loved seminary so much – I love to learn and research new biblical topics. And this desire certainly fuels my passion to have others open the Bible to discover the Lord for themselves. Dr. Youngblood and Dr. Strauss spoke of the discovery events of the Scrolls and the significance of the Scrolls for us today. It began innocuously. A Bedouin herder was throwing rocks into caves in Qumran and heard the breaking of pottery. He crawled up into the cave where the pottery had broken and discovered one of the scrolls, amazingly preserved for hundreds of years because of the dryness of the area, and the sealing of the jar. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls found were 230 biblical manuscripts from almost every book of the Old Testament, dating some 1000 years before any previously known copies. From all 11 Qumran caves, every Old Testament book is represented except Esther. No New Testament books or fragments have been found.
Of course, this discovery demonstrates the reliability and accuracy of the Word of God that we hold in our hands!
It was amazing to hear Dr. Youngblood speak about his own experience at the Qumran site – he was actually able to crawl into those caves, including Cave 4, the most famous of all the caves at Qumran – more than 15,000 fragments from 200 books were found in this cave. The caves are now closed to the public. So hearing about Dr. Youngblood’s firsthand experience at Qumran very soon after the initial discovery was a thrill.
On Saturday, we went to the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park to view the exhibit. I have always loved Balboa Park and if you ever come to San Diego, you’ll want to set aside a day just to come here. The grounds at Balboa Park are just beautiful. There are wonderful museums here including the San Diego Art Museum, Timken Art Gallery, and the Space Museum. Balboa Park is also home to The Old Globe Theatre where you can attend plays written by Shakespeare, Moliere, and others. There is even an outdoor Festival stage at the Old Globe Theatre where I have watched many a spectacular production on warm summer evenings.
Bethel Seminary organized a special lunch for all of us on the rooftop of the San Diego Natural History Museum. The food was great and the view was amazing. So was the weather. I live in the California desert where it’s 115-120 degrees in summer, but in San Diego there was a gentle breeze and it was only 80 degrees. I just couldn’t believe it and let me tell you, I was loving it! What a great preparation for our tour of the scrolls. I had the opportunity to talk with some of the staff of Bethel and even got to see my dear friend, MaryLou Bradbury, the librarian at Bethel. I spent many a day in that library studying for hours, spending even more hours up on the third floor perusing journal after journal for information as I wrote articles and papers for my many different classes. Once lunch was complete, it was time to begin our tour of the scrolls. We went downstairs and watched an exclusive virtual showing of what the Essene community at Qumran may have looked like based upon the current archaeological finds. Fascinating, this showing made you feel as though you were there and was a great preparation for looking at the scrolls themselves.
Testimonia [4QTestimonia (or Messianic Anthology, 4Q175 (4QTest)] was found in Cave Four near the site of Khirbet Qumran near the shores of the Dead Sea in the early 1950’s. It is a short document, complete except for a piece missing in the lower right corner. The name Testimonia comes from an early type of Christian writing, which it resembles in literary style. The Christian Testimonia was a collection of verses from the Bible about the messiah, strung together to prove some kind of point. Verses used like this are usually called proof-texts. The Testimonia from Qumran is not a Christian document, but does resemble the early Christian Testimonia because of its use of a number of verses dealing with a theme.
The Qumran text includes five biblical quotations connected by interpretation. The first two quotations refer to the raising up of a prophet like Moses. The third quotation refers to a royal Messiah, the fourth to a priestly Messiah. The quotation from Joshua is connected to the coming of a time of great disaster, brought on by those dedicated to evil. The manuscript is usually dated to the middle of the first century B.C.E.
But what an amazing experience it was to actually see the Dead Sea Scrolls in person. Viewing these finds was like going back in time. We had the opportunity to see a large piece of the famed Copper Scroll, with markings for many different locations in Israel, and thought to be an ancient treasure map leading to a buried treasure (not yet found:) My favorite scroll was the Testimonia scroll, found in Cave 4. The scroll contains five verses from the Bible, all on the Messiah. The first verse is from Deuteronomy and contains the Hebrew word translated LORD in our Bibles, with the original YHVH, the personal memorial covenant name of God. I had just written about YHVH in my book, Trusting In The Names Of God — A 30-Day Journey. I wrote about how it was considered the most revered name of all the names of God by the Jewish people, and it was called the unutterable name of God. If you look closely at the picture of this scroll, look at the first line from this verse in Deuteronomy containing the Hebrew word for Yahweh, YHVH. Note that the scribe who was copying this verse could not bring himself to actually write the Hebrew letters for YHVH – no, instead, he put four dots. Can you see the reverence that this person had for his God, Yahweh! Oh, that we might always honor the LORD with such reverence!
The gallery shows a picture of the famed Cave 4 in Qumran. I actually got to see a picture of this Cave 4 with my professor standing at the entrance. You can see how steep it is, and that it is not an easy climb to get into it. I’ve heard that people have actually fallen to their death from the opening of this cave and it is now closed to the public. Dr. Mark Strauss shared with the audience on Friday evening how incredible it was that Dr. Youngblood has actually been in this cave. After the initial scroll was found and the significance of the discovery became known to archaeologists, other caves were then explored and many more scrolls were found. The occasion for the storage of these scrolls is disputed. It is thought that either the scrolls were from the library of the Essenes (their community nearby at the Dead Sea) and stored for safekeeping when they were invaded by the Romans. Or it is thought that the scrolls were brought from other areas and hidden from invading troops. My first major in college was archaeology and I have always loved learning about the past through archaeological discoveries. What an amazing find to discover these scrolls – here is the romance of archaeology at its finest and best – one of the greatest finds of all time.
About Trusting In The Names Of God
I am so excited about how the Lord has led in the writing of this book. What a journey it is in writing a new book. I love getting the idea and brainstorming the design of the book. Then I schedule the time for the writing. Now comes the very exciting and thrilling time. Why? Because God clearly leads the whole writing process. And He surely led in this. On the other side of the writing I am thankful to the Lord for certain things that proved invaluable. First, I am so very thankful for my seminary professors, especially Dr. Ronald Youngblood and Dr. Walt Wessel (he is now face to face with the Lord). I am thankful for all I learned from them and especially for their love for God and His Word. Then, I am especially thankful for my Quiet Time Ministries team who prayed for me during the writing of this book. Their prayers were absolutely critical in my writing. Then, I am very thankful for all the scholars who gave their lives to produce invaluable study tools that make study of the Word such a joy – my favorite tools include the Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, and Zodhiates Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible and then all the commentaries I have both in my Libronix software and in book form. I am thankful that we live in a technological age where we can actually have laptops. I have no idea how Spurgeon wrote as prolifically as he did without a computer. I love having access to computers and had a great setup between my laptops and this new very cool gizmo – an Apple Airport Express Base Station. With my airport express I could work wirelessly with my laptops and also print wirelessly – very cool. Then, I am so thankful to those who have contributed to the study of the names of God. And so very thankful to know this book will go into the able and creative hands of Harvest House Publishers. And finally, to my Lord for leading and guiding the writing on every single page, all the way from the expositions of Scripture to illustration choices to quotes and devotional writing. Thank You Lord. To God be the glory!
♥ God bless you in the great adventure of knowing Him!
Psalm 16:1 — About Life — About The Lord — And Just About Everything Else
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