Religion: Dead Sea Jewels

On a spring day in 1947, among the barren Judean foothills that rise above the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, a goat in search of greener pasture precipitated the most significant religious discovery in recent history. As a Bedouin shepherd pursued the animal, he stumbled on a hidden cave. For Biblical scholars, the cave contained green pastures indeed: the first of the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

The shepherds, who had hoped for treasure, were disappointed to find eight crumbling manuscripts wrapped in linen and stored in large jars. In Jerusalem, they eventually...

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