Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The First Crusade

Godfrey of Bouillon and leaders of the first crusade
The first crusade marks a major turning point in the history of Europe, marking the first major war of conquest launched from western Europe since the decline of the Roman Empire. The period immediately before the crusade saw the rise of the Seljuk empire. 1071 saw both the defeat of Byzantium at Manzikert, and their conquest of Jerusalem, which made pilgrimage much more dangerous - previously the pilgrim remaining in Christian lands almost until reaching the Holy Land, but the loss of Anatolia to the Turks made the journey far more dangerous, while tales of attacks on pilgrims circulated throughout Europe. Thus when the Emperor Alexius Comnenus made an appeal for aid from western Europe, there was an audience ready to respond to Pope Urban II's call to arms at the Synod of Clermont (1095). The resulting enthusiasm had several results, including the People's Crusade, and a series of anti-Jewish atrocities committed in Germany, but the main crusade was better organised. However, there was never a proper command structure, in part because the crusade attracted a series of important leaders, but no crowned monarchs, who could have assumed overall control. 

The First Crusade

The principal leaders were the Normans Duke Bohemund of Taranto, his nephew Tancred, and Duke Robert of Normandy, along with Count Reymond of Toulouse, Duke Godfrey de Bouillon of Lorraine, his brother Baldwin, Duke Hugh of Vermandois, brother of the king of France, Count Stephan of Blois, and Count Robert of Flanders. From the start there were tensions between these leaders, but at least until his death, the Papal legate, Bishop Adhemar de Puy, was able to keep these tensions from causing too many problems. The various groups agreed to assemble at Constantinople, and each group travelled separately, some travelling along the Danube, others down the Dalmatian coast, and still more down Italy and then by sea to Greece. The assembly at Constantinople was troublesome - Alexius had not expected an army of 50,000 enthusiasts, having probably hoped for a few thousand mercenaries, and over the winter of 1096-7 the two sides bickered. Alexius wanted to re-conquer Anatolia, lost after 1071, but that was of little interest to the crusaders, but eventually they came to an agreement, with Alexius agreeing to aid their march to the Holy Land, while the crusaders agreed that any lands they conquered would be held from the Byzantine Empire, a promise they probably never intended to honour. 

Battle Field

Finally, in the spring of 1097 the crusaders finally came to grips with the Moslems. Despite their lack of interest in the re-conquest of Anatolia, the crusaders still had to cross it, and the Turks controlled most of the area. The first target for the crusaders was Nicaea, dangerously close to Constantinople. The siege of Nicaea lasted from 14 May-19 June 1097, and just when the crusaders were about to break into and sack the city, Alexius negotiated its surrender and managed to get troops into the city, once again souring relations between the Byzantines and the crusaders. The crusaders now began their march across Anatolia, marching in two parallel columns, with no overall command. At the battle of Dorylaeum (1 July 1097), Bohemund's column was nearly annihilated by a much larger Turkish force, and was only saved by the arrive of Godfrey and Reymond from the other column. Soon after, the first contingent left the army, when Baldwin left to carve out his own principality centred on Edessa. Meanwhile the main crusader army reached Antioch. The resulting siege of Antiioch lasted from 21 October 1097 to 3 June 1098. Once again, the crusade came close to disaster, this time from starvation, and were only saved by late arriving English and Pisan fleets, before finally capturing the city with the aid of a Turkish traitor on 3 June, only two days before a 75,000 strong Turkish army arrived, trapping the crusaders inside the city, where they were themselves besieged from 5-28 June. The siege was ended on 28 June, when the massively outnumbered crusaders sallied from the city, with at most 15,000 combatants. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the crusaders won the resulting battle of the Orontes (28 June 1098). At this point disaster stuck, with the death of Bishop Adhemar, after which tensions between the leaders grew worse. When the crusaders moved on to march against Jerusalem, Bohemund and the Normans remained in Antioch, where they founded their own principality. 

Holy War

The remaining crusaders now found themselves facing a new foe, the Fatimids, who had re-conquered Jerusalem. The remaining 12,000 crusaders reached Jerusalem in far too weak a condition to maintain a siege similar to that at Antioch, and the siege of Jerusalem (9 June-18 July 1099) was dominated by preparation for the successful assault, which defeated the more numerous Fatimid defenders. After the fall of the city, the crusades sacked the city, massacring much of the population, not limiting themselves to the Moslems, shocking even their contemporaries with the violence of the sack. Godrey of Bouillon was now elected Guardian of Jerusalem, but faced one more threat, when a Fatamid relieving army arrived from Egypt. Despite outnumbering the Crusaders 5 to 1, the Fatamid army was nowhere near as dangerous as the Turks had been, and Godrey won a crushing victory at the Battle of Ascalon (12 August 1099). The crusade had been an overwhelming success, but the seeds of eventual failure were already present. The crusaders established four principalities - Jerusalem, Edessa, Tripoli and Antioch - which were often at odds with each other, while many of the crusaders returned home soon after their victory, reducing the crusader strength in the east. Despite that, the crusader kingdoms managed to survive until the fall of Acre in 1291.


St. Mary Mgdalene The First Woman Disciple Of Jesus Christ

Mary Magdalene is a woman who was mentioned several times in the Christian Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. She is most famous for being one of the women who was present at the crucifixion of Jesus, and for being the first person to see him resurrected. But the story doesn't stop there. She was later a very important figure in what we've come to call Gnostic Christianity, a group of early Christian sects that didn't survive past the 6th century C.E.

Very early on, Mary Magdalene was confused with two other women in the Gospels, which may have led to her reputation as a redeemed harlot. Today we've come to recognize that there is no textual support for such a claim, but still the image of Mary Magdalene as a penitent sinner persists. Throughout the Middle Ages this was to have an impact on her legend, which grew in complexity and depth as Christian theology and Western civilization continued to evolve.

Early in the 20th century it was suggested that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene but the idea had little lasting impact. The notion was reintroduced in the 1980s in a book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and this time it caused a national sensation. A whole new genre of non-fiction was born, centered around the idea of Mary Magdalene as the wife of Jesus. Also in the late 20th century a great deal of scholarship emerged exploring the Gnostic writings about Mary Magdalene and her role as an apostle. Both of these perspectives on Mary Magdalene converged in 2003 and 2004 in the wake of the publication of Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code, a best-seller that explores some of the recent theories about Mary Magdalene as Jesus' lost bride.

And The St. Mary Magdalen (Feast day - July 22).

PRAYER (traditional language)

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene To health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

THE PENGUIN DICTIONARY OF SAINTS, by Donald Attwater (Penguin Books, London, 2nd ed, 1983) under "Mary Magdalene" Among other women [besides Mary Magdalene] mentioned in the gospels are the unnamed woman "who was a sinner" (Luke 7:37-50), and Mary of Bethany, Martha's sister (Luke 10:38-42). These are not further identified, and in Eastern tradition they are usually treated as three different persons. But the West, following St. Gregory the Great [540?-604], regarded them as one and the same, though weighty voices from St Ambrose [337?-397] onwards preferred to leave the question undecided. This western tradition resulted in St. Mary Magdalene's being looked on as an outstanding type of the penitent and the contemplative. The eastern tradition has now been adopted in the new Roman calendar(1969).

However the Second Vatican Council removed the prostitute label in 1969.

What the story is about:

Mary Magdalene led a group of women who were prominent followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They were the main witnesses of all the key events in Jesus' life:
  • his ministry in Galilee and Judea
  • the crucifixion
  • his death
  • his burial and resurrection. 
The idea of women as primary witnesses does not seem very startling to people in the 20th century, but it was a revolutionary concept at the time. The testimony of women was not given the same weight as men's, either personally or in a court of law. 
When the Christian stories described Mary Magdalene and the other women as the first witnesses of the Resurrection, they were saying something important about the status of women within Christianity. 

The story of Mary Magdalene contains four different episodes:
1 Mary Magdalene as a disciple of Jesus (Luke 8:1-3)

Mary is described as a woman whom Jesus cured of an unspecified illness. She led a group of women who provided for Jesus and his followers from their own financial resources.

2 Mary at the crucifixion (Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49, Matthew 27:55-56, John 19:25)
In each of the four accounts of the crucifixion Mary was present, either standing at a distance with other women, or standing near the cross.

3 Mary prepared Jesus’ body for burial (Luke 23:55-56, Matthew 27:61)
Mary watched as Jesus’ body was sealed inside the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. She could confirm that he was really dead. She and the other women prepared the spices needed for proper burial of a body.

4 Mary witnesses the resurrection (Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:1-18).

Mary found that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb. She received a message from an angel and was the first person to see the risen Jesus. She was thus the first witness of the resurrection.

Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus:
As Jesus moved throughout the country, teaching and talking about God, he was accompanied by a group of women. Mary Magdalene was the main woman in this group.
‘Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bring the good news of the kingdom of God. 

The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.’
(Read Luke 8:1-3)
Mary’s town of Magdala was a thriving center of the fishing industry, producing smoked fish in large quantities. It was also known as a manufacturing center for fine wool and woolen dyes. Mary probably lived in a comfortable village house similar to the ones shown at Bible Architecture: Houses

Mary at the Crucifixion:

All four accounts of the crucifixion and death of Jesus say that women were at the scene, and Mary Magdalene was prominent among these women. She had been close to Jesus during his life. She stayed close to him as he faced death.

‘There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee. And there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.’
(Read Mark 15:40-41)

See Bible Archaeology: Crucifixion  for information on the horrific process of crucifixion, and on archaeological evidence for this form of execution.
There are three groups of women mentioned in these verses from Mark:
  • the inner core of women who were close friends or relatives of Jesus
  • the women who provided for him from their financial resources
  • the women who came up with Jesus to Jerusalem, just prior to his execution.
Matthew 26:56 makes the point that all the male disciples deserted Jesus and fled for their lives. But the women remained, standing as near as they dared to the spot where the soldiers were carrying out the brutal execution.

This does not mean that the men were more cowardly than the women. It was simply more dangerous for them to be near the execution site. The Romans saw Jesus as a dangerous rebel leader, and so they viewed Jesus’ male friends with suspicion. The male disciples might easily have been arrested as co-conspirators, so they kept their distance. Women were seen as less threatening and so their presence was tolerated.

The Burial Preparations of Jesus' body:

In this part of the story, Mary
  • was present at the temporary burial of Jesus and saw him placed in the tomb, then
  • returned to the place were they were staying and collected the materials needed for a proper burial. 
‘The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.’

(Read Luke 23:55-56, Mark 15:47, Matthew 27:61)

The burial seems to have been done hastily, either because it was night or because of the approaching Sabbath. Pilgrims who died in Jerusalem and people who were executed were temporarily buried in graves for non-residents, and then later removed to the tomb of their family. 
See Bible Archaeology: Tombs for images of the interior and exterior of tombs from the time of Jesus.
The presence of the women at the tomb was meant to highlight the factual nature of the burial: that Jesus was indeed dead, and that his body had been buried in the normal manner.

This point was later disputed by people who said that Jesus had not been dead, but merely unconscious. Since women’s testimony was not given the same weight as men’s in courts of law, this might have been a problem. Deuteronomy 19:15 stipulated that at least two or three witnesses were needed to prove that something had happened. 
But the gospels stress that as well as the women, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, was there, so the required number of witnesses was present at the tomb of Jesus to verify that he was really dead.

Mary witnesses the Resurrection:

According to Jewish law, ointments and spices could not be bought or sold on the Sabbath.Jesus’ death had been sudden, unexpected. The women did not have the necessary burial spices. So they waited until the Sabbath was over, bought the spices, and went to the tomb.

The women intended to wash and anoint the body of Jesus. This was a traditional task of Jewish women, as they prepared the bodies of family members for burial. It was a last, gentle service given to the body of the person they loved.

But when they got to the tomb, they found it empty of Jesus’ body. At this moment Mary had a profound revelation where she 'saw' and 'heard' Jesus. She understood in a way that is not easily explained that Jesus was no longer dead, but alive. She experienced what the gospels call an ‘angel’, a message from God that gave her an unshakeable conviction that Jesus lived.

‘But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

They said to her “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him”.

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 

Jesus said to her “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away”. 
Jesus said to her “Mary!”

She turned and said to him in Hebrew “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples “I have seen the Lord”. And she told them that he had said these things to her.’

(Read John 20:11-18, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, Matthew 28:1-10)

Mary saw and heard Jesus. She was the first witness of the Resurrection. 
She was convinced that he was alive, although she was too distraught to recognize him immediately. 
It is interesting that in this moment of extreme emotion she calls him 'rabbouni', the title his disciples would have used.  
She did not call him by his own personal name of 'Jesus', which she surely would have done if she and Jesus had had the sort of intimate relationship that has been suggested in popular novels. She used the word she had always used as his name, 'rabbouni', teacher.
Jesus told Mary not to cling to him, but to let him go. He was telling her that their former way of life has ended, that she must let go and move on. They are words that are often said by those who seek to comfort and advise people who are grieving. 

 In a way the angel said the same thing: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Death had happened, nothing would ever be the same. Your place is now with the living.

At the tomb, Mary was given instructions. She was told by Jesus or by the angel to “Go to my brothers and say to them….” Mary then ‘went and announced’. With these words Mary was commissioned as an apostle of Jesus (‘go and tell’ is apostellein in Greek). She was an apostle in the same way as the men (the Twelve and the other disciples) who were commissioned to spread the story of Jesus.

Until the third century, teachers in the Christian church referred to Mary as an ‘apostle’, and she is still called ‘apostle to the apostles’ by the Eastern Catholic churches. She has been one of the most revered figures in  Christian history.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul does not include the women at the tomb among the witnesses to the Resurrection. According to his narrative, Jesus appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve male disciples, then to 500 people, then to James, then to all the apostles. Mary of Magdala is not mentioned. Paul was writing to Greeks in Corinth, and sadly his letter reflects the culture of the Greeks, who viewed the testimony of women as unreliable.

Mary was present at all the major events in Jesus' life. 

She was there during his ministry, heard him teach, and may have been the major financial backer sustaining him and the group of disciples who followed him - pious writers have overlooked the practicalities of sustaining a group of men for several years, but Mary did not.

She was there during the crucifixion and death of Jesus - all four gospels mention her presence, faithful to the end. 

Most importantly, she was there at the resurrection, the first witness of this world-changing event, and commissioned by the angel to 'go and tell', as an apostle to the apostles.


'There is a good deal of evidence that in the Greco-Roman world in general women were thought be educated men to be gullible in religious matters and especilly prone to superstititus fantasy and excessive in religious practices. Strabo, for example, points out that "in dealing with a crowd of women.... a philosopher cannot influence them by reason or exhort them to reverence, piety and faith; nay, there is need to religious fear also, and this cannot be arounsed without myths and marvels" (Geog.1.2.8).

We are fortunate to have an example of this prejudice directed specifically against Mary Magdalene as an alleged witness to the resurrection by the second-century pagan intellectual despiser of Christianity, Celsus: "after death he rose again and showed the marks of his punishment and how his hands, had been pierced. But who saw this? A hysterical female, as you say, and perhaps some other one of those who were deluded by the same sorcery" (apud Origen.C.Cels.2.55). Even allowing for Celsus's polemical intent in focusing on a female witness of the resurrection, it is notable that the appearance to Mary Magdalene was sufficiently prominent  what Celsus knew of the Christian claim about the resurrection of Jesus for him to be able to take it up in this way. There can hardly be any doubt that the gender of the "hysterical" or "crazed" woman is important to Celsus's sneering polemic.'

(Quoted from 'Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels', Richard Bauckham, p270-271).

Dead Sea Scrolls - A Compelling Find

Dead Sea Scrolls: What are They?
The Dead Sea Scrolls have been called the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times. They were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. This is an arid region 13 miles east of Jerusalem and 1,300 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea Scrolls are comprised of the remains of approximately 825 to 870 separate scrolls, represented by tens of thousands of fragments. The texts are most commonly made of animal skins, but also papyrus and one of copper. They are written with a carbon-based ink, from right to left, using no punctuation except for an occasional paragraph indentation. 

Dead Sea Scrolls: Why are they Important?
The Dead Sea Scrolls can be divided into two categories—biblical and non-biblical. Fragments of every book of the Old Testament (Hebrew canon) have been discovered, except for the book of Esther. Now identified among the scrolls are 19 fragments of Isaiah, 25 fragments of Deuteronomy and 30 fragments of the Psalms. The virtually intact Isaiah Scroll, which contains some of the most dramatic Messianic prophecy, is 1,000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah.

In addition to the biblical manuscripts, there are commentaries on the Hebrew canon, paraphrases that expand on the Torah, community standards and regulations, rules of war, non-canonical psalms, hymnals and sermons. Most of the texts are written in Hebrew and Aramaic, with a few in Greek.

The Dead Sea Scrolls appear to be the library of a Jewish sect, considered most likely the Essenes. Near the caves are the ancient ruins of Qumran, a village excavated in the early 1950’s that shows connections to both the Essenes and the scrolls. The Essenes were strictly observant Jewish scribes, who appear Messianic and apocalyptic in thinking. The library appears to have been hidden away in caves around the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 A.D.) as the Roman army advanced against the Jews.

Based on various dating methods, including carbon 14, paleographic and scribal, the Dead Sea Scrolls were written during the period from about 200 B.C. to 68 A.D. Many crucial biblical manuscripts (such as Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 61) date to at least 100 B.C. As such, the Dead Sea Scrolls have revolutionized textual criticism of the Old Testament. Phenomenally, we find the biblical texts in substantial agreement with the Masoretic text, as well as variant translations of the Old Testament used today. 

Dead Sea Scrolls: Dramatic Evidence for the Reliability of Messianic Prophecy
The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found, dating back to 100--200 B.C. This is dramatic, because we now have absolute evidence that Messianic prophecies contained in today’s Old Testament (both Jewish and Christian) are the same Messianic prophecies that existed prior to the time Jesus walked on this earth. It goes without saying, manuscript reliability and textual criticism have taken cosmic steps forward! Check it out – There is no question that Jesus Christ was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for!

Dead Sea Scrolls - The Book of Isaiah
Over 200 fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed at the Shrine of the Book Museum in Jerusalem. Remarkably, the only fully intact scroll displayed at the Shrine of the Book is the "Great Isaiah Scroll" (1Qls-a), which contains the entire book of Isaiah that we read today -- all 66 chapters! A number of scholars, from a number of religions and professional disciplines, have analyzed this major find.

The Great Isaiah Scroll was discovered in Cave 1 in 1947. It was identified as the Biblical Book of Isaiah in 1948, and purchased by the Syrian Orthodox Church at that time. Israel reacquired the Great Isaiah Scroll in 1954 to study it and preserve it as a national treasure. It has been displayed as the centerpiece exhibit at the Shrine of the Book museum since 1965. A second partial Isaiah scroll (1Qls-b) was also discovered in Cave 1 in 1947. Since that time, approximately 17 other fragments of Isaiah scripture have been discovered in other caves at Qumran.

As far as dating, it appears that pieces of the Great Isaiah Scroll (1Qls-a) have been carbon-14 dated at least four times, including a study at the University of Arizona in 1995 and a study at ETH-zurich in 1990-91. The four studies produced calibrated date ranges between 335-324 BC and 202-107 BC. There have also been numerous paleographic and scribal dating studies conducted that place 1Qls-a at a date range of approximately 150-100 BC. (See Price, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1996; Eisenman & Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, 1994; Golb, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?, 1995; Wise, Abegg & Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation, 1999.) 

Dead Sea Scrolls - Isaiah 53
The Dead Sea Scrolls have provided phenomenal evidence for the credibility of biblical scripture. Specifically, the nearly intact Great Isaiah Scroll is almost identical to the most recent manuscript version of the Masoretic text from the 900's AD. (Scholars have discovered a handful of spelling and tense-oriented scribal errors, but nothing of significance.) In light of Isaiah's rich Messianic prophecy, we thought it would be rewarding to reproduce a portion of the English translation of the actual Hebrew text found in the Great Isaiah Scroll. Specifically, the following corresponds to Isaiah 53 in today's Old Testament. Remember, this text was dated 100 to 335 years before the birth of Jesus Christ!

Translation of the actual Great Isaiah Scroll (Isaiah 53), beginning with line 5 of Column 44:

5. Who has believed our report and the arm of YHWH to whom has it been revealed And he shall come up like a suckling before him
6. and as a root from dry ground there is no form to him and no beauty [+to him+] and in his being seen and there is no appearance
7. that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and knowing grief
8. and as though hiding faces from him he was despised and we did not esteem him. Surely our griefs he
9. is bearing and our sorrows he carried them and we esteemed him beaten and struck by God
10. and afflicted. and he is wounded for our transgressions, and crushed for our iniquities, the correction
11. of our peace was upon him and by his wounds he has healed us. All of us like sheep have wandered each man to his own way
12. we have turned and YHWH has caused to light on him the iniquity of all of us He was oppressed and he was afflicted and he did not
13. open his mouth, as a lamb to the slaughter he is brought and as a ewe before her shearers is made dumb he did not open
14. his mouth. From prison and from judgment he was taken and his generation who shall discuss it because he was cut off from the land of
15. the living. Because from the transgressions of his people a wound was to him
16. And they gave wicked ones to be his grave and [a scribbled word probably accusative sign "eth"] rich ones in his death
17. although he worked no violence neither deceit in his mouth And YHWH was pleased to crush him and He has caused him grief.
18. If you will appoint his soul a sin offering he will see his seed and he will lengthen his days and the pleasure of YHWH
19. in his hand will advance. Of the toil of his soul he shall see {+light+} and he shall be satisfied and by his knowledge shall he make righteous
20. even my righteous servant for many and their iniquities he will bear. Therefore I will apportion to him among the great ones
21. and with the mighty ones he shall divide the spoil because he laid bare to death his soul and with the transgressors
22. he was numbered, and he, the sins of many, he bore, and for their transgressions he entreated.

Dead Sea Scrolls - The Comparison to Today's Biblical Text
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a powerful tool for answering textual critics of biblical scripture. Even though the first scrolls were discovered in 1947, it was only recently that much of the research and many of the translations were released to the public. Here's Isaiah 53 from the King James Version of the Bible, which was translated from the Masoretic text of the Hebrew scripture. Compare it to the portion of the Great Isaiah Scroll reproduced on the prior page - it's dramatic!

Isaiah 53 in the King James Version of the Holy Bible:

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Dead Sea Scrolls - A Remarkable Time in History
The Dead Sea Scrolls sat untouched in a perfect, arid environment for approximately 2,000 years. In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd stumbles upon arguably the most important archaeological find in history, and then, one year later, the Jewish people return to their homeland as a formal nation for the first time since 70 AD. As prophetic events in the Middle East appear to be accelerating, it's remarkable to read prior Messianic prophecy with absolute assurance like no other time in history. We now have utmost confidence that the Old Testament (Jewish Tanakh) that we read today is the same as existed in 100 to 200 BC. This means that the over 300 Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah preexisted the birth of Jesus Christ. It's up to each of us to determine what to do with this reality!