This past week has brought to the public’s attention the discovery of two important manuscripts: one of Leviticus and one of the Qur’an.
The Leviticus manuscript was actually discovered in 1970 in a Torah ark from a Byzantine-era synagogue excavated at Ein Gedi in Israel. It was burnt by a fire, however, and could not be deciphered until now. The scroll was found to contain Leviticus 1:1-8. It is dated no later than the 6th century A.D. (when the synagogue and village were burned).
Two pages of the Qur’an (portions of Surahs 18-20) were discovered inside the codex of another late 7th century Qur’anic manuscript at Birmingham University. Radiocarbon dating of the manuscript has revealed an age of A.D 568A- 645. Muhammad lived from A.D. 570 – 632, making it a live possibility that the manuscript fragment was composed while Muhammad was still alive.