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Book of Nehemiah Found Among the Scrolls

Scroll scholars find first fragment of Nehemiah

nehemiah

A gaunt Nehemiah guards the portal on the west facade of the Church of St. Lazare, in Avallon, central France. In a recent study, scroll scholars Torleif Elgvin and Esther Eshel identified the first known copy of the Book of Nehemiah among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Photo: Foto Marburg/Art Resource, NY.

Anyone familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls can tell you that portions of nearly every book in the Hebrew Bible are represented in these ancient texts discovered in caves near the Dead Sea.

The only exceptions were the Book of Esther and the Book of Nehemiah;* scholars assumed the latter had been written on the same scroll as the Book of Ezra (as was common) but simply hadn’t survived—until now. In a recent blog post,** Norwegian scroll scholar Torleif Elgvin of Evangelical Lutheran University College in Oslo, Norway, announced that he and colleague Esther Eshel of Bar-Ilan University will be publishing a collection of more than two dozen previously unknown scroll fragments, including the first known fragment of Nehemiah.

The scrolls in the new book come from Qumran Cave 4, Bar-Kokhba caves and Wadi ed-Daliyeh. The publication, Gleanings from the Caves (forthcoming from T&T Clark) will feature enhanced photographs of the scrolls by Bruce Zuckerman and his team,*** as well as “artifacts from the Judean Desert such as a scroll jar, a palm fiber pen, a bronze altar and inkwell.”

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What is the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Why are they so important to our understanding of the Bible, Christianity and Judaism? In our free eBook The Dead Sea Scrolls: Discovery and Meaning, find out what the scrolls tell us about the Bible, Christianity and Judaism

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