The Bible is a holy book, but it’s also multi-layered. It wasn’t all written at once, and it remains the subject of research and commentary.
Even now, important fragments of the Old and New Testaments are still being discovered!
... especially in the Ancient Near East, the strip of land surrounded by desert that’s known as the "Fertile Crescent" because of its shape. It stretches from the Nile, via the River Jordan, down to the Persian Gulf. So it covers present-day Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Egypt. That is where the Bible stories take place, where they were first handed down orally from one generation to the next, and where the first moves were made to write them all down.
Doubtless the most spectacular find, the dead-sea-scrolls, dates back to 1947, when copies of large parts of the Old Testament were discovered at Qumran on the northern edge of the Dead Sea – first by a young herder looking for a lost goat, then by scholars, who undertook years of excavation work and unearthed 175 scrolls.
The rocky plateau of Qumran had been inhabited since the seventh century BC. It was home to the strict Jewish community of the Essenes, who made numerous copies of the books of the Hebrew Bible. For us today, these are the oldest records of those books and they are remarkably similar to later copies.
If you’d like to know which other significant finds have been recorded by archaeologists in biblical lands, take a look at this wall, which shows some of them.
All depictions: © Bibelgalerie Meersburg