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'Silver Scrolls' Are Oldest OT Scripture, Archaeologist Says
BP News ^ | 2-27-2004 | Gary D Myers

Posted on 02/28/2004 12:26:57 PM PST by blam

'Silver scrolls' are oldest O.T. scripture, archaeologist says

Feb 27, 2004
By Gary D. Myers

Significant scroll

Gabriel Barkay, in silhouette, shows a picture of how one of the silver scrolls looked shortly after it was removed from the tomb at Ketef Hinnom. Scholars determined that the scrolls were inscribed with the ‘priestly blessing’ found in Numbers 6:24-26. Photo by Gary D. Myers

NEW ORLEANS (BP)--While excavating a burial tomb near Jerusalem in 1979, Gabriel Barkay uncovered the oldest known copy of Old Testament scripture. The priestly blessing, recorded in Numbers 6:24-26, was discovered on two small silver scrolls dated to the 7th century B.C.

“This was a discovery of utmost importance,” said Barkay, professor of archaeology at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. “These verses pre-date the famous Dead Sea Scrolls by approximately four centuries. They are the only biblical verses we have from the time of the First Temple [period].”

Ancient inscription

Gabriel Barkay exhibits an enlarged diagram of the inscription on one of the silver scrolls discovered at Ketef Hinnom. Scholars have dated the inscription to the 7th century B.C. Photo Gary D. Myers "

Barkay spoke of the discovery at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 18 –- one of only two lectures during a trip to America. His was the inaugural lecture offered the seminary’s new Center for Archaeological Research.

Steven Ortiz, assistant professor of archaeology and biblical studies and director of the Center for Archaeological Research at NOBTS, served as field archaeologist at the Ketef Hinnom site where the scrolls were found. When Ortiz heard that Barkay was coming to America to lecture at Emory University, he convinced his archaeology mentor to come to New Orleans to speak as well. Asking Barkay to deliver the center’s first lecture was an easy decision, Ortiz said.

“He is an excellent and engaging lecturer,” Ortiz said. “I wanted our students to be exposed to one of the top scholars in the field of biblical archaeology.”

“The importance of the Ketef Hinnom inscriptions tends to be overlooked among students and pastors,” Ortiz said. “These scrolls are significant for the dating of the Old Testament. They provide evidence of the antiquity of the Bible.”

The two silver scrolls were discovered by Barkay’s team in a rock-hewn burial cave southwest of the ancient city of Jerusalem. The structure of the tomb was of interest to Barkay because it dated to the First Temple period, but it appeared that over centuries looters had taken all the artifacts. The tomb had last been used for storing Turkish army rifles during the Ottoman period.

However, Barkay and his team discovered that some artifacts had been preserved in a bone repository in the tomb. When a family member died, he or she was placed on a burial bench in the tomb along with personal items such as vases and jewelry, Barkay explained. After the dead body decayed, the bones were collected and placed in a bone repository located in a separate area of the tomb. The practice is referred to in the Old Testament as being “gathered unto his fathers.”

At some point a layer of the repository’s ceiling broke lose and covered the collected bones and personal items. Barkay said that the piece of ceiling appeared to be nothing more than the repository floor. An Israeli schoolboy helping clean the repository during excavations accidentally broke through the layer, revealing many bones and artifacts below.

As the team sifted through the items in repository, they discovered the two scrolls. After the initial discovery in 1979, scholars had the daunting task of unrolling and deciphering the text. They had no idea how important the find would be.

“It took us three years to unroll it [the larger scroll],” Barkay said. “When unrolled, it was covered with very delicately scratched characters. The first word we could decipher was the ‘YHWH’ –- sometimes anglicized as ‘Jehovah.’ This is the name of the Lord in the Hebrew Bible.”

Until this time no inscriptions with the name of God had been found in Jerusalem.

The larger of the two scrolls was only about three inches long when it was unrolled. The smaller one was just over two inches long. Barkay said the thin fragile silver of each scroll was etched with 19 lines of tiny, Hebrew script. It was years before researchers realized that the inscription was an almost exact representation of the priestly blessing found in Numbers. Careful study revealed that the Hebrew characters used were distinctive of the 7th century B.C.

In English the verses read: “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

The find is significant because it helps establish the historicity and the age of Old Testament scripture. In the late 1800s German higher critics began questioning the date the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) was composed in written form. Many of these critics argued that this section of scripture was written some time after the Babylonian exile.

According to Barkay, the discovery of this early biblical inscription is an important part of the argument for an early dating of the Old Testament. He acknowledges that the find does not prove that the Pentateuch was written by the 7th century. However, it is strong evidence for that position.

“I can at least say that these verses existed in the 7th century ... the time of the prophet Jeremiah and the time of King Josiah,” Barkay said.

Barkay published a book about the find in 1986, but recent advances in computer technology have helped researchers discover additional verses on the silver scrolls. The new research technique revealed that the scroll contains other verses from the Pentateuch. Barkay has written a manuscript about these other finds and plans to publish it in the near future.

While the silver scrolls were discovered more than 20 years ago, little information about the discovery has been available to the general public. Lectures like this are important because most of the articles about finds like those at Ketef Hinnom are published only in scholarly journals, Ortiz said.

He said he hopes to hold a number of archaeology lectures each year as funding becomes available, and that those lectures will help educate ministerial students and others about important finds that uphold the historicity of the Bible.

Qualified lecturers such as Barkay also bring credibility to the Center of Archaeology Research, Ortiz said, noting that lectures in the field show that NOBTS is serious about biblical archaeology and could help the school secure a site to excavate and research in the future. --30--


TOPICS: Israel; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeologist; archaeology; artifacts; bible; epigraphyandlanguage; gabrielsrevelation; godsgravesglyphs; jeselsohnstone; judaism; ketefhinnom; letshavejerusalem; oldest; oldtestament; ot; scripture; scrolls; silver
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1 posted on 02/28/2004 12:26:58 PM PST by blam
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To: farmfriend
Ping.
2 posted on 02/28/2004 12:28:37 PM PST by blam
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To: Alouette; Salem; SJackson; yonif
Ping!
3 posted on 02/28/2004 12:38:26 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Am Yisrael Chai!)
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To: Elsie; AndrewC; jennyp; lockeliberty; RadioAstronomer; LiteKeeper; Fester Chugabrew; ...
Ping of Truth!
4 posted on 02/28/2004 12:46:49 PM PST by bondserv (Alignment is critical!)
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To: bondserv
Thanks for the ping!
5 posted on 02/28/2004 12:50:10 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
Thanks for the ping!

More fuel for the discussion, eh?
6 posted on 02/28/2004 12:54:47 PM PST by bondserv (Alignment is critical!)
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To: blam
Very interesting.
7 posted on 02/28/2004 12:56:45 PM PST by Millie
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To: Revelation 911; The Grammarian; SpookBrat; Alamo-Girl; betty boop; Dust in the Wind; maestro; ...
ping to article
8 posted on 02/28/2004 12:57:07 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: bondserv
Indeed. It will help put to rest considerable doubt over the true antiquity of the faith.
9 posted on 02/28/2004 1:00:19 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: xzins
Bump!
10 posted on 02/28/2004 1:00:43 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: bondserv; All
You mean this "YHWH" tradition wasn't just drafted up by a sect of nostalgic Hebrews under the rule of Nebudchadnezzar and onwards?

Huh.   ;-`

11 posted on 02/28/2004 1:10:51 PM PST by unspun (The uncontextualized life is not worth living. | I'm not "Unspun w/ AnnaZ" but I appreciate.)
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To: blam
“I can at least say that these verses existed in the 7th century ... the time of the prophet Jeremiah and the time of King Josiah,” Barkay said.

Read about King Josiah in 2 Kings 22-23.

King Josiah presided over a major religious revival, and when they went to clean up the Temple, Hilkiah, the high priest, "found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord", which had apparently been gathering dust during the reign of the preceeding evil backslidden Judean kings.

I wonder if this scroll was copied from what Hilkiah found.

12 posted on 02/28/2004 1:11:37 PM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: unspun
You mean this "YHWH" tradition wasn't just drafted up by a sect of nostalgic Hebrews under the rule of Nebudchadnezzar and onwards?

Great point! The Great "I AM" has been around a while.

13 posted on 02/28/2004 1:21:23 PM PST by bondserv (Alignment is critical!)
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To: blam
...the thin fragile silver of each scroll was etched with 19 lines of tiny, Hebrew script

How on earth were they able to put 19 lines of script on a piece of metal only slightly larger than two inches?

14 posted on 02/28/2004 2:03:19 PM PST by curmudgeonII
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To: blam
****Lectures like this are important because most of the articles about finds like those at Ketef Hinnom are published only in scholarly journals, Ortiz said.****

These snobs (those who posess the arifacts) do not want 'the rabble' aware of these things. Knowledge is solely for the elete. Next thing you know Holy Scripture itself will be broadly disseminated in the vernacular (God Forbid) to the common man.
15 posted on 02/28/2004 2:14:09 PM PST by mercy
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To: curmudgeonII
How did they put 19 lines of scripture on a 2 inch piece of metal?

Maybe they had nanotechnology back then.
16 posted on 02/28/2004 2:15:02 PM PST by Redmen4ever
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To: blam
***According to Barkay, the discovery of this early biblical inscription is an important part of the argument for an early dating of the Old Testament. He acknowledges that the find does not prove that the Pentateuch was written by the 7th century. However, it is strong evidence for that position. ***


This is big news, it undercuts one of the main tenants of liberal theological thinking. It would have been devastating news 90 or 100 years ago.

I imagine the liberals will just shrug it off with a, "well, it doesn't matter when it was written, what matters is what we read from it today."

17 posted on 02/28/2004 2:18:40 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus
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To: Alamo-Girl; bondserv
Indeed. It will help put to rest considerable doubt over the true antiquity of the faith.

FYI, 19th century German higher criticism has been dead and buried for quite a while. Orthodox Christianity has no problem with the "true antiquity" of the faith although liberal Christianity does and this discovery is not likely to change the liberal position any more than previous discoveries.

18 posted on 02/28/2004 2:45:38 PM PST by Dataman
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To: PetroniusMaximus
I imagine the liberals will just shrug it off with a, "well, it doesn't matter when it was written, what matters is what we read from it today."

You have captured the essence of the liberal position. This kind of information is useful in removing honest objections but useless in convincing liberals.

19 posted on 02/28/2004 2:47:53 PM PST by Dataman
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To: Dataman
Thank you for your reply! I should have been more precise. My remark was with reference to secular doubts concerning the true antiquity of the Jewish faith.
20 posted on 02/28/2004 3:00:55 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: xzins; Dataman
Thank you!

The spade of the archeologist is to liberals as the cross is to Dracula.

If only the former were as mythical as the latter.

Dan
21 posted on 02/28/2004 3:10:41 PM PST by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: curmudgeonII
"How on earth were they able to put 19 lines of script on a piece of metal only slightly larger than two inches?"

I can put the Lord's Prayer on the pointed head of a needle. (But, I'm a retired chip-maker)

22 posted on 02/28/2004 4:41:05 PM PST by blam
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To: Fitzcarraldo
Read about King Josiah in 2 Kings 22-23.

King Josiah presided over a major religious revival, and when they went to clean up the Temple, Hilkiah, the high priest, "found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord", which had apparently been gathering dust during the reign of the preceeding evil backslidden Judean kings.

I wonder if this scroll was copied from what Hilkiah found.

It is always prudent to chase down the scriptures referenced in an article. The Holy Spirit may have some beautiful nuggets of truth He wants to share, as with the one you found.

Bravo! God always rewards the diligent student.

23 posted on 02/28/2004 5:27:17 PM PST by bondserv (Alignment is critical!)
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To: Alamo-Girl; Dataman
Thank you for your reply! I should have been more precise. My remark was with reference to secular doubts concerning the true antiquity of the Jewish faith.

aka. Middle Eastern lies swallowed hook line and sinker by the Left. Satan has always despised the Chosen people of God, and hates those adopted into the family with equal furor. A la Mel Gibson!

24 posted on 02/28/2004 5:36:24 PM PST by bondserv (Alignment is critical!)
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To: Alamo-Girl
My remark was with reference to secular doubts concerning the true antiquity of the Jewish faith.

In that case your statment makes complete sense.

25 posted on 02/28/2004 5:51:29 PM PST by Dataman
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To: blam
BTT
26 posted on 02/28/2004 6:11:40 PM PST by nopardons
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To: curmudgeonII
Carefully!
27 posted on 02/28/2004 6:13:15 PM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: bondserv; Dataman
aka. Middle Eastern lies swallowed hook line and sinker by the Left. Satan has always despised the Chosen people of God, and hates those adopted into the family with equal furor. A la Mel Gibson!

Indeed. One which "floors" me is the rule of dating used by modern scholars, which basically says that if anything prophesied actually happened then the book containing the prophesy must have been written afterwards because otherwise the author would have been a prophet which is impossible according to "scientific materialism".

Some of the ancient civilizations recorded things in stone or metal which has lasted over the years and can be easily dated. For the most part, the Jewish people used materials which did not last - thus the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the above silver engraving.

In the case of the "scholarly" method described above, before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, studied and carbon-dated, it was assumed that the book of Enoch was written after 37 B.C. because it contained prophesies about Herod (whose reign began 37 B.C.) but before Christ because it was quoted by the apostles. But carbon dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which themselves are copies from another copy or original) dated the DSS copy to about 200 B.C. LOL! So much for "scholarly" method of dating...

28 posted on 02/28/2004 9:38:41 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: blam; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; A.J.Armitage; abner; adam_az; AdmSmith; Alas Babylon!; ...
Gods, Graves, Glyphs
List for articles regarding early civilizations , life of all forms, - dinosaurs - etc.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this ping list.
29 posted on 02/28/2004 10:22:30 PM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: blam; billbears; 4ConservativeJustices; stainlessbanner
Thanx blam =->
30 posted on 02/29/2004 3:59:36 AM PST by Ff--150 (John 7:37-38)
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To: Alamo-Girl
But carbon dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which themselves are copies from another copy or original) dated the DSS copy to about 200 B.C.

That should be repeated more often.

31 posted on 02/29/2004 5:27:52 AM PST by jimtorr
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To: jimtorr
Indeed. If not confronted with such facts, scientific materialism in dating ancient manuscripts could unsettle the faith of the young.
32 posted on 02/29/2004 9:05:00 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: 1bigdictator; 1st-P-In-The-Pod; 2sheep; a_witness; adam_az; af_vet_rr; agrace; ...
FRmail me to be added or removed from this pro-Israel ping list.

WARNING: This is a high volume ping list

33 posted on 02/29/2004 9:05:39 AM PST by Alouette (Mitul d'min kadam Shemayo malchusa v'shalim b'ammaya)
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To: blam
Very interesting and exciting.
34 posted on 02/29/2004 9:15:34 AM PST by Cinnamon Girl
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To: PetroniusMaximus
"I imagine the liberals will just shrug it off with a, "well, it doesn't matter when it was written, what matters is what we read from it today." "BTTT

BTTT

BTTT

BTTT!!!!!
35 posted on 02/29/2004 11:00:28 AM PST by Yehuda (http://www.JewPoint.blogspot.com)
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To: blam
Very important find! Liberal Bible scholars who have tried to date these verses after the Babylonian period are going to be on the defensive over this one.
36 posted on 02/29/2004 11:26:35 AM PST by Fedora
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To: Yehuda
***BTTT***

Pardon?

37 posted on 02/29/2004 11:41:30 AM PST by PetroniusMaximus
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To: Alamo-Girl
In the case of the "scholarly" method described above, before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, studied and carbon-dated, it was assumed that the book of Enoch was written after 37 B.C. because it contained prophesies about Herod (whose reign began 37 B.C.) but before Christ because it was quoted by the apostles. But carbon dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which themselves are copies from another copy or original) dated the DSS copy to about 200 B.C. LOL! So much for "scholarly" method of dating...

LOL!--that's one of my major complains about liberal Bible scholarship, too :) The Dead Sea Scrolls disproved a lot of late-date theories like that. Another good example of that type of "scholarly dating" fallacy is how liberal scholars long tried to date the Gospels after 70 AD on the grounds of Jesus' predictions about Jerusalem in Matthew 24-25 and parallel passages. Then eventually a fellow liberal Bible scholar pointed out that, um, the language used there is not just in the Gospels, it's also in 1 Thessalonians 4-5, which even liberal scholars date to c. 50 AD. . .whoops! :)

38 posted on 02/29/2004 11:43:29 AM PST by Fedora
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To: curmudgeonII
Microcaligraphy has long been a distinct Jewish artform. In the Israel Museam in Jerusalem, there's a copy of the entire book of Exodus written on a single 8x11 piece of paper.
39 posted on 02/29/2004 11:46:51 AM PST by ChicagoHebrew
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To: Fedora
Excellent! Great catch, Fedora! Thank you so very much!
40 posted on 02/29/2004 11:47:13 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: ChicagoHebrew; kosta50
Microcaligraphy has long been a distinct Jewish artform. In the Israel Museam in Jerusalem, there's a copy of the entire book of Exodus written on a single 8x11 piece of paper.

Fascinating! Do you think they will put 'YHWH' back into the bible, now?? ;)

Kosta50, thought you'd like this article.

41 posted on 02/29/2004 11:58:46 AM PST by ET(end tyranny) (Isaiah 47:4 - Our Redeemer, YHWH of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel.)
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To: Fedora; Alamo-Girl
Along the same lines...

An excellent book on the topic is "The New Testament Documents, Are They Reliable." ny F.F. Bruce.

Bruce was, arguably, the greatest evangelical Biblical scholar or the 20th century. Any higer-critic arguing with Professor Bruce quickly found himself way out of his depth.

The above mentioned book is a very brief but rock-soild argument for reliability of the NT.

It can even be found online: http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/ffbruce/ntdocrli/ntdocont.htm
42 posted on 02/29/2004 12:04:32 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus
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To: PetroniusMaximus
Thanks! I read one of his books on that a while ago but don't have my own copy and didn't know there was a text online--very handy! :)
43 posted on 02/29/2004 12:15:35 PM PST by Fedora
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To: ET(end tyranny)
What are you talking about? YHWH is in every Hebrew Bible I've ever seen.
44 posted on 02/29/2004 12:31:17 PM PST by ChicagoHebrew
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To: ChicagoHebrew
Yes YHWH is in the Hebrew bible, but gets removed when translated. Usually. I did find an English online JPS-Divine Name Restored bible though. ;) That's what I meant, that maybe now they will return the Divine Name to English translations.
45 posted on 02/29/2004 12:35:54 PM PST by ET(end tyranny) (Isaiah 47:4 - Our Redeemer, YHWH of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel.)
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To: bondserv
Ping of Truth!

Thanks for the ping.

I guess that rules out the theory that someone in the Babylonian exile is the sole writer of those words.

Destruction of the Temple -- The 9th of Av, 586 B.C.E.

46 posted on 02/29/2004 12:40:57 PM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: PetroniusMaximus
Thank you so much for the book recommendation and the link!!!
47 posted on 02/29/2004 3:51:54 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: PetroniusMaximus
bttt = bump this to the top

iow, I would like to re-emphasize your astute comments!
48 posted on 02/29/2004 9:22:38 PM PST by Yehuda (http://www.JewPoint.blogspot.com)
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To: ET(end tyranny)
I am surprised this has been kept "hush-hush" all this time -- since 1979!? Why? If true this would be a major archaeological find -- something that would turn everything upside down, proof positive that the Bible wasn't written, as some imply, after the Babylonian captivity. Yet no one talks about this. Strange.

The fact that the lettering is '7th century' (BC) style (known from what?) is good, but what is lacking is any mention of carbon dating. Why is there no carbon dating?

When the Catholic church tried to convince the world that the so called Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus, carbon-dating showed it was a medieval hoax.

Again, this is not just an occasional object of interest but a major, major find and carbon-dating would put all doubt to rest.

49 posted on 03/01/2004 3:47:35 AM PST by kosta50
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To: kosta50
The fact that the lettering is '7th century' (BC) style (known from what?) is good, but what is lacking is any mention of carbon dating. Why is there no carbon dating?

I'm no scientist, let alone one expert in the area of carbon dating, but it seems to me that carbon dating is restricted to that which had some carbon in it to begin with. In other words, now dead tissue of formerly living things - organic matter. The Shroud of Turin is made of a material that was from a living thing, so it is able to be carbon dated. Not so with something made from silver, which is inorganic.

50 posted on 03/01/2004 7:32:15 AM PST by Ancesthntr
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