Greek was the lingua franca of Israel at the time of Christ— most people had to be bilingual in order to conduct business and communicate with the Romans, Bergsma said.
Bergsma noted that the new scrolls, despite being discovered near the Dead Sea, are not associated with the Qumran and the Essenes.
The new scrolls are believed to have been hidden by Jewish refugees who were forced to hide in the cave during the Bar Kokhba revolt, an uprising against the Romans which took place circa AD 132–136.
The new scrolls were discovered in Cave 8, also known as the Cave of Horror because of the large number of Jewish refugee skeletons discovered within. Archeologists also uncovered a 6,000 year old skeleton and a basket believed to be over 10,000 years old during the excavation.
Some forty Jewish refugees are believed to have hidden in the cave from Roman authorities, who chased many Jews into the Dead Sea Valley during the revolt.
The fact that the scrolls were carefully hidden in the cave by people fleeing for their lives “shows how much affection and piety was associated with the ancient Greek translation of Scripture.”
News reports have noted that there are a few slight variations in the text of the scrolls versus modern Bible translations, which an Israeli researcher said could merely be copying errors.
Ultimately, Bergsma said, slight variations in the text do not affect the canon of Scripture, nor are they likely to change the meaning of any Scripture passages. It is a significant find, he said, but more significant for scholars than for Christians and those who venerate the Bible.
"For Bible scholars, it adds more manuscript evidence for the text of Scripture from ancient times. It largely confirms the reading and the wording of Scripture that we knew already," Bergsma reiterated.
"Is it going to change the wording of Bible translations? No. Is it going to change any doctrine? No...but it gets hyped up to create interest."
There are at least 20 other caves that have yet to be excavated in the Judean desert, according to the Antiquities Authority. Many of the caves have been looted in the years since they were discovered.
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