Ancient Handwriting Suggests Some of the Bible is Older than Believed

Photograph: Dan Balilty/AP

Photograph: Dan Balilty/AP

Archaeologists and mathematicians in Israel claim to have found evidence that suggests key biblical texts may have been written earlier than some scholars believe.

A Tel Aviv University team used handwriting analysis to determine that a group of Hebrew inscriptions from around 600 B.C. were written by at least six different authors. This suggests there was widespread literacy in ancient Judea.

There has been a longstanding debate about when biblical texts first began to be compiled. Some believe from the Book of Joshua to the second Book of Kings were written before the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and the exile to Babylon, while others believe is was after. It comes down to when they believe literacy was wide spread.

Many have believed the biblical texts were written as a result of the exile to Babylon. They wanted to write about their history. Israel Finkelstein, an Israeli archaeologist who participated in the study, believes those texts were written in the late 7th century B.C. in Jerusalem, before the siege. He believes the study offers support for that theory, according to an American scientific journal called Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released the information on Monday.

The team of archaeologists and mathematicians examined 16 ink inscriptions on ceramic shards discovered in an ancient military fortress in Arad. They used multispectral imaging to reconstruct Hebrew letters and a computer algorithm to analyze the writings.

The writings were military troop movements and provisions, showing that people through the military chain could read. The tone of the writings suggest they were not scribes. Combined with the remote location of the fortress, this further suggests there was a wider spread of literacy than previously believed.

This would place a higher level of literacy than the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. 

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.

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