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The Dead Sea Scrolls

No history of the Old Testament would be complete without mentioning the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1947, near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, a young Bedouin goat herder named Muhammed edh-Dhib, threw a rock into a cave in an attempt to chase a goat out of it. When he heard something break, he climbed up to check it out. What he found was a broken pottery jar full of scrolls, undiscovered for almost 2000 years. Eventually, some 850 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, were discovered. These scrolls are over 1000 years older than any other copies of the Hebrew scriptures we had at the time, and yet they read almost exactly the same as our newer copies. That shows us how accurate our Old Testament is.

psalm-b Dead Sea Scroll Qumran jar

By the mid-third century B.C., many of the Jewish people scattered around the Mediterranean had forgotten their Hebrew and spoke the common Greek of the day. In order that they might understand the Scriptures, a group of 72 scholars gathered in Alexandria, Egypt to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. This translation came to be known as the Septuagint, from the Latin word for 70. The LXX became the Bible of the Jews of Jesus’ day. It is the version the Greek Orthodox Church continues to use in its liturgy even today.

The Septuagint (LXX)

As Christianity spread across the Empire, the apostles and other inspired men wrote letters of instruction for local congregations. Copies of these letters were passed on to other churches. Over time, these letters were collected to form our New Testament. Like the Septuagint, the New Testament books were written in Greek

The New Testament

1664 LXX b

A leaf from the Septuagint, printed in Oxford, England in 1664

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