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Pottery fragments may reveal when the bible was written.

Following intensive study by researchers from the Tel Aviv University in Israel, new evidence from the period before the end of the First Temple seeks to answer the age old question on when the Bible was written.

This was after examination using modern imaging tools of fragments of inscribed pottery officially known as ostraca which were discovered in the Tel Arad fortress. The analysis of the writings on the pottery reached the conclusion that literacy around 600 BC, was not only set apart for the elite of Jerusalem. The messages passed through the writing consist of military commands and shopping lists. Some visible messages inscribed in ink include messages to Eliashib, the quartermaster of the remote desert fortress with requests for provisions such as vinegar, wine, oil and flour to be delivered to forces in the kingdom of Judah.

These writings have however been found to have different handwritings which historians have attributed to there having been several writers ranging from different social classes.

This distinguishing of handwritings and authors was made possible through the use of a combination of Jewish history, archaeology and applied mathematics coupled with computerized image processing and algorithm development. This led to the conclusion that at least six different people had written the 18 samples obtained and all at around the same time.

The letters from text pairs were jumbled up and separated using an algorithm based on the different handwritings.

According to a report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), all army officers, high ranking to desert outpost quartermasters were literate also indicating the suggested existence of an appropriate education system in Judah since before 586BC.

With this findings, it’s, therefore possible that the Bible could have been written some decades earlier than predicted and in turn distributed. It is still a highly contested argument among Biblical scholars on whether Ancient Jews had begun the writing of some of the oldest books such as Joshua, Deuteronomy, Kings and Judges which describe ancient Israel prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The research, analysis results, therefore, go a step forward into settling this dispute.

Based on a statement by Israel Finkelstei, one of the archaeologists on working on the Arad project, previous arguments which were mostly text based and relative with no absolute chronology can now be confirmed and tackled empirically. He also cited that most of the writings were well written with hardly any mistakes.

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