Thursday, June 08, 2017

Preexilic Bible manuscripts

The earliest manuscript of any recognizable part of the OT is a text of part of Num 6:24-26 found incised on two small silver scrolls discovered in 1979 during the excavation of Judean burial sites at Ketef Hinnom, immediately southwest of the city of David in Jerusalem. This text is too brief to make a definite connection with a particular tradition. However, it is a form of the blessing of Aaron as well as possibly Deut 7:9. Because biblical texts would have been written on perishable materials such as papyrus or vellum (animal skin), these silver-inscribed scrolls are the only ancient biblical texts preserved in the settled areas of Judah and Israel, thus the earliest such texts. Although they were discovered in a burial context that dates from the years immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586BC, it is likely that the actual composition of these silver manuscripts should be assigned an early date, in the seventh century BC. R. Hess, The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction (Baker, 2016), 10. 


  1. I did not know Hess has an OT intro! I have met him and he is extremely knowledgeable!

  2. The Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford argues on linguistic grounds that "the Pentateuch is to be regarded substantially as preexilic":