Biblical Archaeology Review 37:4, July/August 2011

Biblical Views: Insertions in the Great Isaiah Scroll

By Eugene Ulrich

The Dead Sea Scrolls have revolutionized our understanding of various aspects of the Bible, ancient Judaism, and the ancient Jewish religious milieu from which Christianity was born. BAR editor Hershel Shanks, when preparing his review of the new publication of the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa),1 noticed that one of the Biblical advances highlighted by that scroll was “isolated interpretive insertions.” Hershel asked me if I would describe for BAR readers what these “isolated interpretive insertions” were.

One of the major ways the scrolls have transformed our understanding of the Bible is by documenting an earlier period of Biblical tradition that we had not seen clearly before. Prior to the scrolls’ discovery, we had only a single form of the Hebrew text, the medieval Masoretic Text (MT), and we thought that was, in purified form, as close as we could get to the “original text.”

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