New Research Appears to Affirm the Antiquity of the Book of Psalms

The biblical book of Psalms consists of 150 devotional poems, which—according to the Talmud—were composed by ten different authors, most prominent of whom was King David. Based primarily on the evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many modern academic scholars have concluded that, while some of the individual psalms might be quite old, the precise selection and ordering that appear in the Tanakh did not emerge until a relatively late date. Instead, they argue, a variety of collections proliferated during the Second Temple period, with overlapping but not identical contents. But a group of researchers based in the Netherlands, who have been subjecting the Dead Sea Scrolls to new forms of technologically sophisticated analysis, have come to different conclusions. Rossella Tercatin writes:

The Dead Sea Scrolls collection presents some 40 scrolls containing the text [of Psalms]. “Some of them are just one tiny fragment; some are collections of many large fragments,” Drew Longacre, [one of the scholars conducting the new research], said. “Maybe fifteen or so are substantially preserved.” . . . The preliminary results of the analysis carried out using paleographic and radiocarbon dating have revealed that some of the scrolls might actually be more ancient than previously thought.

“One of the manuscripts presenting texts in roughly the same order as medieval manuscripts could have been dated as early as the 3rd century BCE, which could be very challenging for those who say that the current Psalter is a much more recent creation,” Longacre said.

Longacre [also] believes that a clear distinction existed between artifacts created for public use and community reading and those manufactured for personal use, a distinction somewhat comparable to the modern difference between a Torah scroll used for public reading in synagogues and a ḥumash, a [printed] book containing the Pentateuch, usually used for learning purposes, or between hardcover and paperback books.

The difference between formal and informal manuscripts also could offer a fundamental key to interpret discrepancies between contradictory versions of the texts, Longacre said.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew Bible, Psalms

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship