O’Callaghan’s Bombshell -- By: Bryant G. Wood
BSP 1:2 (Spring 1972) p. 35
Quiet, pious, peace-loving Father Jose’ O’Callaghan has rocked the scholarly world. He says he has identified Dead Sea Scroll fragments as portions of the New Testament dating to A.D. 50-75 years earlier than the oldest known manuscript and only 15 years after the death of Christ. If accepted, this would radically change current widely-held beliefs about the New Testament. A debate now rages as to whether or not he is correct.
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Fragments From Cave 7
The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947, and after, in caves near the Dead Sea. They were copied by scribes living in a monastic community at Qumran and date to the period 200 B.C.-A.D. 68. Portions of every book of the Old Testament were found, with the exception of Esther, as well as commentaries and non-Biblical material. The find was of great significance to Old Testament textual studies since the scrolls were 1000 years older than the previous oldest Hebrew manuscripts.
BSP 1:2 (Spring 1972) p. 36
In 1955 a new cave, labeled by archaeologists as Cave 7, was explored. The finds were sparse: 19 papyrus fragments, two jars (one with the Hebrew inscription ROMA on it) and several miscellaneous pieces of pottery. But the fragments were different than the other Dead Sea Scroll material - they were written in Greek rather than Hebrew or Aramaic. Although they have been called “Dead Sea Scroll fragments” there was no evidence to link the finds in Cave 7 with the Qumran community who produced the treasure of scrolls found in other nearby caves. Scholars were able to identify only two of the scraps: Exodus 28:4–7 and verses 43 and 44 of the apocryphal Letter of Jeremiah. The rest were termed “unidentified”.
Now after carefully studying the unidentified scraps, Jesuit scholar O’Callaghan claims that a number of them are portions of the New Testament and date to A.D. 50. In a recent article in BIBLICA, published by the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, he identified three fragments as Mark 6:52, 53; Mark 4:28; and James 1:23,
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