Referred to as the Apocryphal Genesis, the ancient text describes the lives of Noah, Abraham, Enoch and Lamech, characters from the book of Genesis, and most importantly, the passages are not narrated in the third person, but it is Noah himself who tells the story. Noah describes how the ark coming to rest on the peaks of Mount Ararat after the great Flood.
The Museum of Israel (Jerusalem) has exhibited, for the first time ever, a rare fragment of the enigmatic Dead Sea Scrolls discovered 70 years ago, describing the lives of Noah, Abraham, Enoch and Lamech, characters in the book of Genesis, written in the first person.
The rare manuscript is the so-called “Apocryphal Genesis” the only known existing copy of an ancient Jewish text that tells stories of the first book of the Bible.
This manuscript, which is part of the Rolls of Qumran, dates from the 1st century BC and it was one of the first seven Dead Sea scrolls that were found in caves in the West Bank in the 1940s and 1950s.
The document, which will be shown to the public for three months, is written in Aramaic and describes the lives of Noah, Abraham, Enoch and Lamech, characters from the book of Genesis, and most importantly, the passages are not narrated in the third person, but it is Noah himself who tells the story.
“This is the only copy of this book on Earth,” said Adolfo Roitman, curator of the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book, where the scrolls are housed.
“In some way what we have are parallel stories that we don’t have in the Hebrew Bible, in which the patriarchs are presented in different ways than the ways we have today in the Pentateuch,” he said.
The ancient manuscript, which is badly damaged, deals with Noah’s ark coming to rest on the peaks of Mount Ararat after the great Flood.
Noah describes how “atoned for all the earth in its entirety” by offering up various animal sacrifices.
“When you take a look at this manuscript, it’s not like taking a look at Botticelli,” Roitman said. “It doesn’t look very aesthetic, that’s not the point. The point is actually the kind of information in this document, as a lost tradition, that we didn’t know about before. It opens up a new perspective on ancient Jewish history and civilization.”
The Genesis Apocryphon scroll was already in a very damaged state when it was first discovered by Bedouin shepherds in 1947.
“Today we have the opportunity to see it (the manuscript) for a few months and then it will go back to the cellars and will not see the light again for dozens of years,” said the director of the museum, Ido Bruno.
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