Dating old bibles

The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element.

Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing — an inscription dating from the 10th century B. The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought.

Though the Masoretic scribes added these vowels to the ancient text long after it had been written, they were likely preserving traditional vocalizations that dated to much earlier times.

The Masoretes produced several different systems of vocalization (writing in vowels) between 500 and 700 C. Until the last few decades, most biblical scholars believed that the Masoretic biblical texts were, with some exceptions, the best witnesses to the most ancient Hebrew text of the Hebrew Bible (what Christians sometimes call the Old Testament).

But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.

"It indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research," said Gershon Galil, a professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, who deciphered the ancient text.

Recent discoveries from the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, suggest that there were several different versions of many biblical books in the Second Temple period.

E., a group of Jewish scribes known as the Masoretes carefully selected, copied, and annotated biblical scrolls, adding vowels and accents to the ancient Hebrew consonants in the process.(The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.) Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further.To calculate the date one must first employ the genealogical data given in Genesis, I & II Chronicles, the Gospels, and elsewhere.Information gleaned from Judges, I & II Kings, Daniel, Acts, and other books must be included as well.After the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by the Romans in 70 C.

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