For Biblical scholars, discovering another copy of the Book of Leviticus isn’t exactly Earth-shattering. “There’s little of surprise in finding a Leviticus scroll,” says James Aitken, a lecturer in Hebrew at the University of Cambridge. “We probably have many more copies of it than any other book, as its Hebrew style is so simple and repetitive that it was used for children’s writing exercises.”
What makes the sixth-century text remarkable, says Aitken, is its age. Until 1947, the oldest known Biblical texts dated to the tenth century. Then Bedouin goat herders exploring the Qumran caves discovered the iconic Dead Sea scrolls, which date from between the third century B.C. and the first century A.D. The Ein Gedi scroll is one of only three deciphered documents dated to the long gap between, says Aitken—the other two being a fragment of Genesis thought to be from the sixth century and an Exodus scroll from the seventh or eighth century.
James is so much more than a lecturer in Hebrew. Anyway, read the rest. And watch the spiffy video: