Two new books have been published reporting on the discovery of 25 Hebrew Bible texts, at least some of which may be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  There have been ~70 such texts that have appeared on the antiquities market since 2002.

The provenance of these manuscripts is uncertain since they were found on the antiquities market, but they may have come from the Qumran caves. They are believed to be ~2000 years old.

Nehemiah was the only book that was not found among the original Dead Sea Scrolls. This new cache of manuscripts, however, contains portions of Nehemiah (2:13-16), as well as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Ruth, Kings, Micah, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Joshua, Judges, Proverbs, Numbers, Psalms, Ezekiel, and Jonah. Given the unknown provenance, however, the manuscript may not be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, even if it dates from the same period of time.

Work is currently underway to investigate the manuscripts to make sure they are not forgeries.

News articles:

Live Science


hezekiah-toiletArchaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be a toilet in a pagan shrine in Lachish. We know the practice of installing a toilet to desecrate a shrine was practiced from an account of King Jehu doing so in 2 Kings 10:27. The toilet in question, however, dates to the time of Hezekiah. While there is no Biblical record of Hezekiah doing the same, 2 Kings 18:4 tells us that he destroyed pagan sacred places. It would not be unexpected that he also desecrated pagan sacred sites by installing toilets. Tests indicate the toilet in question was never used, and just had a symbolic purpose.


It was announced last week that another King Hezekiah bulla has been found (initially discovered in 2009).  This is a small clay seal (13×12 millimeters) used by Hezekiah to seal and authenticate a document. It was molded around the strings that tied the document shut. In fact, we can still see the impression from the fibers on this bulla.

We already had eight other bullae bearing King Hezekiah’s name, but they were unprovenanced. This new bulla was uncovered during an official excavation at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by Dr. Eliat Mazar. It reads, “Belonging to Hezekiah, (son of) Ahaz, king of Judah.”

There’s a nice video on the find here.

The discovery of this bulla should remind us again that the Bible is not a book of fairy tales. It is written as history, and archaeological finds such as this prove that it is based on real historical people and real historical events.

"Jesus said to them, 'My wife'" highlighted.

“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife'” highlighted.

I had previously written about the so-called Jesus’ Wife fragment that was brought to the public’s attention in 2012 by Karen King of Harvard Divinity School (here, here, and here). It was greeted by a lot of controversy regarding its authenticity, with the evidence leaning heavy in the direction of forgery. We had been waiting for tests to be performed on the papyrus and ink for well over a year to see if they also pointed in the direction of forgery. Those results finally came out in April 2014. It turns out that the materials are old (~8th century A.D.), but not nearly as old as King initially suggested and the paleographic evidence indicated (4-5th century A.D.).

Despite the ~300 year difference between estimated age and actual age of the papyrus, this seemed to be a vindication for King against those who argued that it is a modern forgery.  But is it?  Couldn’t it be a modern forgery using ancient materials?  After all, no forger buys his paper at the local Wal-Mart!  We would expect a forger to use an old papyrus for his forgery, so an analysis of the materials alone is not sufficient to tell us whether this is a forgery (it can confirm forgery, but not preclude it).  The analysis of the contents (vocabulary, grammar, writing style, etc.) is equally important, if not more important than the material composition itself for evaluating authenticity.


James Ossuary

James Ossuary

Amnon Rosenfeld et al recently published an article in the Open Journal of Geology citing further evidence vindicating the authenticity of the James Ossuary.


HT: Ben Witherington

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (March/April 2014) has an article detailing 50 people named in the Bible, both great and small, that have been confirmed archaeologically. It’s not an exhaustive list, but very informative. Read all about it at BAR.

I visited the Asian Art Museum today to see their exhibit featuring the Cyrus Cylinder.  If you don’t know what the Cyrus Cylinder is, or why it is important, visit my post here.  I must say that I was beyond ecstatic to see this little 9″ long piece of baked clay!  I must have stood there for an hour just gazing away. Here’s some photos I took:


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