Dead Sea Scrolls…online?
The Dead Sea Scrolls are the 2,000 year old document that contains almost all of the Hebrew Bible. For Israeli and Jewish people worldwide, this document consisting of aged papyrus and parchment paper, is one of the most sacred holy texts that exists. As of recently, the Israeli Antiquities Authority has been working in conjunction with Google to have the images of the Dead Sea Scrolls uploaded to Google and be available for the public to read. The benefit in putting these documents online will ensure the preservation of them, and create less of a demand for the original text to be handled.
While I know there are many religious and holy documents online these days, I couldn’t help but think back to hundreds and thousands of years ago when the Bible, Torah (and Dead Sea Scrolls), and many other religious texts were first written and used. The people that were using these original texts, and even the people using them hundreds of years after them, would never have in a million years believed that we could gain access to them in such a fashion as viewing them electronically. In some way, this just seems to me to decrease the meaning of these sacred books. I am sure that there is plenty of argument to the contrary of what I am saying, such as by putting these books online there is acutally greater accessibility to them and should therefore mean there is greater usage of them. Nevertheless, I can’t help but find it odd that technology has become so advanced that even the most sacred, holiest of texts that exist in this world- can be accessed online. If the Bible, Torah, etc. are online..then where is our limit? What should be left solely in its original form? It almost feels as if there are no boundaries these days as to what we can’t put online. I think that by leaving certain scripts and texts only available in their original form, or in a holy, physical form (i.e. prayer book in a church of temple), it is a more respectful and personable experience with the actual material of the religion.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are said to be on Google by sometime in 2011, and the six scrolls will be added one by one. MegaVision has been developing a high tech digital imaging system in order to take pictures of the scrolls with the least amount of damage done to them as possible.