Google takes the Dead Sea Scrolls online

Lior Mizrahi GETTY IMAGES A part of the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is seen inside the … Continued

Lior Mizrahi


A part of the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is seen inside the vault of the Shrine of the Book building at the Israel Museum on September, 26, 2011. in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now online for all to see, thanks to Google and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The ancient texts have only been on the Internet for a few hours, and already biblical scholars and religious leaders are buzzing with excitement about the new possibilities offered by this technology.

“They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage,” said James Snyder, the director of the Israel Museum.

Discovered in the mid-20th century in caves along the shore of the Dead Sea, the scrolls contain the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible, and other documents from the time surrounding the birth of Christianity.

Until now, the documents have been accessible only to a small number of scholars and specialists. Since the original authors of the scrolls have been highly debated, many are hoping that this new public resource will open up that conversation.

“Of course, this is still not like being in the room with the scrolls, but it is a huge step forward for making the scrolls more accessible,” wrote Associate Professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary at his blog, The Biblical World.

The Dead Sea Scrolls project is just the latest example of how religious leaders and scholars have put modern technology at the service of ancient texts and truths.

Today, the faithful have a host of new ways to access Scripture and spiritual wisdom. Comparing translations, viewing commentaries and studying the texts in the original languages are all now possible with software such as
Logos and
Accordance. There are even interactive digital versions of ancient maps for study. It’s not unusual for the new generation of religious teachers and preachers to
bring an iPad to the pulpit.

Many have noted that technology opens up new avenues for religious leaders to engage their congregations. Pope Benedict XVI, for example,  has
urged priests to take full advantage of blogs and media engagement tools which “can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.” The pope sent out his first twitter message in June, announcing an updated Vatican news site. Evangelical pastor and theologian John Piper has written “
Six Reasons Pastors Should Blog.” The pastor of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll, hosts text message question-and-answer sessions at his church in Seattle, Wash. Some churches even offer a staff position called “pastor of technology.”

The Bible app produced by has been downloaded 18 million times, and a hugely popular Facebook page called Jesus Daily
shows that Jesus has a dedicated fan base.

Advances in technology –from transportation to tablet –have long been at the heart of how religions grow and interact with the culture.

Is Google the 21st century Gutenberg, bringing spiritual resources to a global audience for free?

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  • ccnl1

    And the following is added “vitiation” of said exercise:

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher/magic man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus’ sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is “authentic Jesus” like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus’ case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    For added “pizzazz”, Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the “pew people” to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the “filicider”.

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of “pretty wingie thingie” visits and “prophecies” for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

  • FreePalestine

    One day Palestine will be free and the Dead Sea Scrolls will be regarded as their looted heritage.

  • Secular1

    ScottinVA you said, “Give it a few years, and archaeology will verify these other events, as well.”. Sure, can you please wait for few more years. You can then come and comment, until then please shut up with all your neanderthal morality & ethics. Thank you

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