Religion: Oldest Word

The leather scrolls which the Bedouins offered for sale looked interesting to the monks of the Syrian Orthodox Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem. A couple of goatherds had found eight of the scrolls, wrapped in cloth and hidden in urns, in a cave near the Dead Sea. The monks bought four scrolls* and last February Archbishop Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel brought them to the U.S. for study and identification.

At Yale's American School of Oriental Research, scholars' eyes popped as the examination progressed: the ancient Hebrew manuscripts, written in Aramaic, appeared to be Old Testament writings dating back more than 2,000...

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