This is Part I of a two-part article; the second part will appear in the next issue of Bible Review. Part 2 will discuss the recovery of a missing passage in the Book of Samuel, as well as new developments in our understanding of late biblical religion.—Ed.
Nearly 40 years have passed since that fateful spring day in 1947 when a young Bedouin shepherd threw a stone into a cave in the cliffside on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea and heard the sound of pottery shattering inside. When he and a companion later gathered nerve to crawl into the cave (now known as
William Foxwell Albright, the most distinguished Near Eastern archaeologist and Hebrew epigraphist of his generation, immediately hailed the finds as the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.