Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

It’s long been the conclusion of scholars that Esther and Nehemiah are the only books of the OT not represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The May/June 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), however, reports that Norwegian scholar, Torleif Elgvin of the Evangelical Lutheran University College in Oslo, Norway, and Esther Eshel of Bar-Ilan University are publishing a collection of two dozen previously unknown DSS fragments from Cave 4, the Bar-Kokhba caves, and Wadi ed-Daliyeh in a book titled Gleanings from the Caves (T&T Clark publishers).  If this checks out, then Esther would remain the only book not found in the DSS.  Of course, if Nehemiah and Esther were written on the same scroll as most scholars believe, then while we may not have an extant copy of Esther from the DSS, there is good reason to believe the text was present in the community as part of the Nehemiah scroll.

On January 30, 2011 the governor of Illinois signed “The Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” into law, thereby enacting same-sex civil unions that are equal in rights and responsibilities to marriage in the state.  While religious organizations who did social service work were specifically exempted from the non-discrimination elements of the law, the State of Illinois moved to cancel more than $30 million dollars worth of contracts with Catholic charities who worked with the state to provide foster care and adoption services because they would not pair children with same-sex couples.  The state began sending referrals to other foster care agencies.  The Catholic charities challenged the state in court and lost at both the circuit and appellate levels.  They ultimately had to drop the case due to a lack of funds to appeal it further up the chain.  The lack of state cooperation and funding will virtually ascertain the closure of these adoption agencies, which have more than 90 years of experience in this area.

The lawyer who represented the Catholic charities, Peter Breen of the Thomas Moore Society, commented, “This stands as a stark lesson to the rest of the nation that legislators promising ‘religious protection’ in same sex marriage and civil union laws may not be able to deliver on those promises.”  Indeed.