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Google Brings the Dead Sea Scrolls To the Digital Age 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the nothing-is-dead-on-the-internet dept.
skade88 writes "Google has been working to bring many old manuscripts to the internet at high resolution for all to see. From their announcement: 'A little over a year ago, we helped put online five manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls—ancient documents that include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence. Written more than 2,000 years ago on pieces of parchment and papyrus, they were preserved by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves in which they were hidden. The Scrolls are possibly the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century. Today, we're helping put more of these ancient treasures online. The Israel Antiquities Authority is launching the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, an online collection of some 5,000 images of scroll fragments, at a quality never seen before.'"
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Google Brings the Dead Sea Scrolls To the Digital Age

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  • by flayzernax (1060680) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:03PM (#42331999)

    The stories in the scrolls seem more like fables to explain wtf they saw like the ones about the war between angels. I wouldnt discount them as pure fiction, but I wouldnt rationalize modern day wars and crusades based on them either.

    The unfortate thing is you really need a degree in hebrew to use the site, otherwise you take whatever little snippets and driblets there are at face value. I wish I had 10 years of theological knowledge and hebrew to go along with my strong background in IT, and military, and general understanding of science. It would make for some great inspiration for some wonderful sci-fi =P

    P.S. we kill eachother and do stupid shit, not because of the words and the information, its because of the un-enlightened way in which we percieve and try to control the use of this information.

  • Some extra info (Score:5, Insightful)

    by butalearner (1235200) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:06PM (#42332041)

    I can't find the percentage of identified vs. unidentified, but among the identified scrolls:

    40% are copies of text from the Hebrew Bible
    30% are copies of texts not canonized in the Hebrew Bible (i.e. fanfiction) from the Second Temple Period like the Books of Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach, and additional psalms
    30% are "sectarian manuscripts" - texts that describe rules or a set of beliefs held by certain groups within Judaism.

  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:23PM (#42332161)
    Mod parent up. If these fragments were truly the word of god, then surely they would contain useful information that would increase our knowledge of the world/universe and would remain true even today. Instead, we get re-worked fables plagiarized from other sources, tribal customs codified into law, doomsday prophecies, and rants against various enemies (all of which the old testament is full of).
  • Re:Some extra info (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:41PM (#42332289)

    30% are copies of texts not canonized in the Hebrew Bible (i.e. fanfiction)

    I don't think you can characterize ancient texts that way. Canonization is a complex "theopolitical" process, and what gets in and what is left out doesn't necessarily have much to do with its quality, or who wrote it, or when (unless of course it was written after the canonization process was complete.) It's mostly a matter of whether the influential people in the society that does the canonization think a document supports their views or conflicts with them.

  • by lucm (889690) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:42PM (#42332297)

    Talk about throwing pearls to the pigs... You must be one of those entitled Gen-Y.

    Here is an idea that would be "worth your time" [1]: why don't you build an internet company that is worth billions of dollars then use some of the profits to fund a project where Leonardo Da Vinci's manuscripts are being found (or made available), digitized and published online for all to see?

    I suspect that the day you accomplish that, your opinion about the Dead Sea scrolls will have a bigger impact. Meanwhile feel free to tweet about it, I'm sure your 8 followers will be delighted, you may even get a Like if posted on Facebook.

    [1] with those quotes around "worth your time" I hope to convey how annoyed I get by reading the part of your comment where you talk about things that are worth spending your time with.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:48PM (#42332347)

    Mod parent up. If these fragments were truly the word of god, then surely they would contain useful information that would increase our knowledge of the world/universe and would remain true even today. Instead, we get re-worked fables plagiarized from other sources, tribal customs codified into law, doomsday prophecies, and rants against various enemies (all of which the old testament is full of).

    [emphasis mine]

    Your claim probably makes sense to a lot of people in modern industrialized societies, but actually depends on a lot of assumptions about what a god would want.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:53PM (#42332379)

    Uh oh, turning burdens of proof around again!?!
    I say the Easter Bunny wrote all those books! But he stole most of it from the FSM. All just as plausible as any other fairy tales. Without proof of existence all the gods are just like any other imaginary character.

  • by lucm (889690) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:38PM (#42332695)

    Uh oh, turning burdens of proof around again!?!
    I say the Easter Bunny wrote all those books! But he stole most of it from the FSM. All just as plausible as any other fairy tales. Without proof of existence all the gods are just like any other imaginary character.

    Unless you live in France, the burden of proof is always on the accuser. So if you want to get your panties in a bunch because some people believe in God, you need some kind of evidence that they are wrong, it's not the other way around.

    Your personal belief that there is no God is not a fact (unless someone is writing an article about you) and therefore does not qualify as evidence. This belief is shared by about 10% of the American population (14% world-wide) so that makes you part of a minority. Which means that even if the existence of God was to be decided by a jury, by an election or by an "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" process, odds are that God would win.

  • by Empiric (675968) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:44PM (#42332733)

    "Correlation does not imply causation" is a clear concept here at Slashdot--unless the topic is religion. In that case, any broad correlation is fully sufficient to demonstrate that Worldview X "stole" its concepts from Worldview Y.

    But, let's get serious. Cite your primary-source documents, showing even the level of correlation, so that the evaluation of independent individuals, rather than your dogmatic posturing, can evaluate their relevance within the context of -overall- similarity.

  • by tftp (111690) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:45PM (#42332745) Homepage

    Your claim probably makes sense to a lot of people in modern industrialized societies, but actually depends on a lot of assumptions about what a god would want.

    It may well be that the god in question is an aquatic creature whose only interest lies in counting numbers from 0 to infinity and enjoying the silence of depths. Such a god would indeed command us to do things that we'd never guess. However what use such a god would be for us if we do not share anything with him? If he commands us to go and jump into the water, shall we?

    In practice, most (if not all) gods are somewhat homomorphic, and they pretend to be either the parents of the humankind or at least someone who is related to us. They exhibit human characteristics like anger and jealousy. This means that a modern god should be somewhat understandable by his believers. Even the Christian god is declared to be all-loving and such, as if anyone could know for sure. All the facts are, actually, against such a theory - the loving god has a very strange way of expressing his love, from fields of war to schools in small towns. You will find far more miracles in the old Star Trek, where they don't matter, than in real life - where they do.

  • by dudpixel (1429789) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:32PM (#42332973)

    The burden of proof with respect to the existence of God is always on the theist, not the atheist.

    And no, I am not an atheist.

  • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:55PM (#42333081)

    The ritualistic stuff in Leviticus was to insure it got taught to the next generation as it made it seem important to their souls survival in the afterlife, and there was a lot in there about health for example the ban on pork could be so tha they would not get trichinosis. It also banned marring of close relatives which is definitely good thing for genetic diversity and over all populations health, (that one was obviously good I mean look a pharaonic Egypt where the ruling family married siblings and cousins to keep a pure bloodline which left them with debilitating health problems). It baned polygamy and sex out side of monogamous marriage which is great for a society that lack condoms and has no other way to stop std's from spreading let alone detect or treat them. Leviticus also contains much in the way of basic sanitation and on personal hygiene, very useful for bronze age society that lacks soap that had recently escaped enslavement where they were treated like animals. It also implemented a justice system and basic legal structure and common system of shared ethics that we can all agree on (don't steal don't murder). all necessary for the building blocks for "modern" society.

    if you tried to explain any of the real causes behind diseases or give them medical/scientific information they would think you a nutter. (you tell them the water down stream of the latrine has little bugs in it that will get inside of them and make them sick the would look in the water not see bugs and say your crazy, you make it a decree that their immortal soul is in the balance and the will pay attention)

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @12:12AM (#42333563)
    If you look at the old testament law, a lot of it was pretty useful for survival outside of religion.

    Of course you've got the basic ethical principles (don't steal, don't murder, etc.) but then you've got things that their value is not apparently obvious such as don't eat pork. Why pork? Well for one undercooked pork can more easily make you sick than many "kosher" animals. For another pigs aren't exactly the best animals to keep in the desert because they tend to need a lot of water and are best kept in the mud, two things that the Middle East doesn't exactly have a lot of. You've got prohibitions against marrying family members, a pretty good idea to help strengthen genetic diversity at a time when genes were not understood. You've also got basic sanitation. You've got prohibitions against eating animals that could carry diseases. You've got quarantining of people who could carry diseases. Etc.

    If you read through Leviticus you can see a whole lot of useful things for the Jews during that era. Of course it isn't presented as "don't eat pork because you'll get Trichinosis" but its all quite useful.
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:28AM (#42334443)

    A lot of comments here are dismissing the entire idea of God but they don't seem to have really wrapped their head around 'God.' Generally, God, as known in the old and new testament, is a being...a force...a 'father' who transcends the world and the entire universe and has existed forever and will always exist. God created everything that we see including all of the laws and relationships that define our understanding of 'science.' It is the 'actions' of God that define our understanding of him in the old testament. This is the God who delivered miraculous military victories in the face of overwhelming enemies, who caused bushes to burn but not be consumed, who delivered plagues and pestilence upon enemies, who parted the sea allowing escape, and who fed a people wandering in the desert, gave them a code to live by, and provided a new land for them to live in. We can dismiss all of these events as 'fables', secure in our scientific understanding that tells us such things are 'impossible' but we cannot deny that these events were very real to people who claimed to have experienced them. Similarly, there was a man who lived in what is now Israel approximately 2,000 years ago and performed a variety of miraculous actions before returning to life following a cruel execution. We cannot deny that the events that occurred 2,000 years ago were so amazing to the people who experienced them that their lives were transformed forever and they began living according to a new 'code' that has persisted to the present and is, coincidentally, the basis for most of our current civilization and law. Finally, we cannot deny that a significant portion of the entire population of the world believes in the principles taught by that man and follows them in their daily lives. So those dusty scrolls from 2200 to 1900 years ago, found in those old caves, represent documents produced during a time of religious ferment and upheaval. We are no different than those people were. If there were a religious figure today who was giving sight to the blind, curing uncurable diseases, causing paraplegics to give up their wheelchairs, changing water into wine, multiplying food at the local Safeway by 1000x, teaching us to love others, and then returning to life to walk among us after being beheaded by evildoers, we would be just as impressed as those people were then. Of course, those who were not actually present would be just a little skeptical and their descendants even more so...but, with the power of God, they would recognize the truth for what it was...and so do we.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @04:35AM (#42334691)

    Mod parent up. If these fragments were truly the word of god, then surely they would contain useful information that would increase our knowledge of the world/universe and would remain true even today. Instead, we get re-worked fables plagiarized from other sources, tribal customs codified into law, doomsday prophecies, and rants against various enemies (all of which the old testament is full of).

    And what do you have on offer? Rants against the Bible, spurious theories already disproven [jewishbible.org], unsupported assertions, and nonsense. That isn't an improvement. . . . it isn't even competitive.

    Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
        When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. -- Proverbs 17:28

    Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house,
        Or he will become weary of you and hate you. -- Proverbs 25:17

    It is better to live in a corner of the roof
        Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. -- Proverbs 25:24

    Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
        Or you will also be like him. -- Proverbs 26:4

    Like an archer who wounds everyone,
        So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by. -- Proverbs 26:10*

    A fool always loses his temper,
        But a wise man holds it back. -- Provers 29:11

    And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” -- Matthew 19:17-19

    * How far we have fallen - this seems contrary to the governing philosophy and practice of most corporate and government projects.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @05:49AM (#42334985)

    While we don't need religion to tell us that murder is wrong,

    Although arguments have been made regarding humanity's innate moral sense, I still have to ask, are you quite sure about that?

    Druids Committed Human Sacrifice, Cannibalism? [nationalgeographic.com]
    Human sacrifices 'on the rise in Uganda' as witch doctors admit to rituals [telegraph.co.uk]
    Four held for kidnapping kids for human sacrifice [telegraph.co.uk]
    Nigeria: Prevalence of ritual murder and human sacrifice and reaction by government authorities (March 2000-July 2005)" [unhcr.org]
    Evidence found of human sacrifice in North America [examiner.com]
    "Chilling" Child Sacrifices Found at Prehistoric Site [nationalgeographic.com]

    Many in the West cannot conceive of things being different in any way if foundations of its morality and culture are destroyed, but that is an epic mistake. Things will change, and many of the possibilities make for something that may not be nice [freerepublic.com] at all.

"We are on the verge: Today our program proved Fermat's next-to-last theorem." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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