Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Reading a Lump of Coal

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Bible believers have long defended the text of Scripture against the attacks of skeptics. For a long while this defense, specifically regarding the text of the Old Testament, was made more difficult by relatively recent manuscript evidence that formed the basis of the Hebrew text.

The Masoretic Text, which is the foundation of our translations of the Old Testament, is a product of the Masoretes, a group of fastidious Jewish scribes who made copies of the Hebrew text from the 7th to the 10th centuries A.D. The habits of the Masoretes led to very accurate transcriptions of the text. But, the relatively late date of the copies raised questions in the minds of many. How could we know that the Masoretic copies are accurate since so much time had elapsed between the copies and the original autographs?
The Isaiah scroll, recovered from the ancient Qumran site near the Dead Sea in 1947 served to validate the accuracy of the Masoretic text. This scroll, believed to be around 1,000 years older than the Masoretic copies, is virtually identical. It helps to assure the believer that we have an accurate copy of God’s word.

Many other scrolls were uncovered from Qumran. One interesting find was of a set of scrolls that were burned in a fire which destroyed the community’s synagogue. The scrolls were discovered in 1970, were charred, and until recently unreadable. Scholars believe the scrolls to be about 2,000 years old. Any attempt to unroll the scrolls led to their disintegration, so they were simply put into storage for nearly half a century.

Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Kentucky made a startling discovery using technology not available back in the 1970’s. A September 21, 2016 article written by Daniel Estrin of the Associate Press states:

“…a number of burned scrolls were scanned using X-ray-based micro-computed tomography, a 3D version of the CT scans hospitals use to create images of internal body parts. The images were then sent to William Brent Seales, a researcher in the computer science department of the University of Kentucky. Only one of the scrolls could be deciphered.”

That scroll was a portion of the book of Leviticus. Estrin writes:

“The text discovered in the charred Ein Gedi scroll is ‘100 percent identical’ to the version of the book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries, said Dead Sea Scroll scholar Emmanuel Tov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the study.

“‘This is quite amazing for us,’ he said. ‘In 2,000 years, this text has not changed.”

The find is another piece of evidence validating our confidence in the Bible as an accurate version of God’s revelation to man. Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We trust that Scripture, “once for all delivered to the saints” (cf. Jude 3), a product of God’s providence, remains an accurate and complete guide for man today. Not only accurate, it is the authoritative product of God’s mind. As such, it demands our study and loyal obedience.