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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dead Sea Scrolls and 15th century Mishnah online

The Dead Sea Scrolls:
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is very proud to present the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, a free online digitized virtual library of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hundreds of manuscripts made up of thousands of fragments – discovered from 1947 and until the early 1960’s in the Judean Desert along the western shore of the Dead Sea – are now available to the public online. The high resolution images are extremely detailed and can be accessed through various search options on the site.

With the generous lead support of the Leon Levy Foundation and additional generous support of the Arcadia Fund, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google joined forces to develop the most advanced imaging and web technologies to bring to the web hundreds of Dead Sea Scrolls images as well as specially developed supporting resources in a user-friendly platform intended for the public, students and scholars alike.


The Mishnah:
The text of the Mishnah describes the first written account of the early Jewish oral tradition and the earliest significant work of Rabbinic Judaism. It dates from the period of the second century BCE at a time when persecution of the Jewish populations gave rise to the fear that the details of the oral traditions dating from the first five centuries BCE might be lost. As a written authority it is second only to the Bible text and can be used as a source of authority for making judgments. The Mishnah is divided into six orders (Shisha Sedarim) and over the next six centuries, along with further commentaries, came to form the Talmud. The major part of the text of the Mishnah is written in Hebrew and reflects the debates which took place in the first and second centuries CE by a group of Rabbinic thinkers known as the Tannaim. It teaches by drawing on examples of specific judgments along with debates by notable Rabbis, and discusses problems from all areas of human existence.

This is one of only three complete manuscripts of the Mishnah, and considered to be 'an outstanding witness of the western type of Mishnaic Hebrew'. Of the manuscript, Schiller-Szinessy (vol. ii p. 9) writes: ‘Although this copy can lay claim neither to a very great age, nor to absolute correctness, we cannot hesitate to pronounce it to be a MS. beyond all price.’ Edited by W. H. Lowe, ‘The Mishnah on which the Palestinian Talmud Rests’ (Cambridge, 1883) – although that title can be considered inaccurate given more recent research on the manuscript.

((h/t Yoel)