World’s Oldest Hebrew Prayer Book Discovered?

A rare Hebrew text dating back to the 9th  century has been unveiled by a collector of rare biblical artefacts – and it is  believed to be the world’s oldest Jewish prayer book.

The 50-page binder was found in Jerusalem and  following carbon tests by experts and scholars, the book is believed to have  been made around 840 C.E. The Green Collection, which announced the  finding, claims the book predates the earliest Torah scrolls ever found by  around 400 years and could be an important link between the time of the Dead Sea  Scrolls and medieval Judaism.

The 50-page book, pictured is beige and measures 3in by 4in. The text is written in an archaic form of Hebrew with Babylonian vowel markings.
The 50-page book, pictured is beige and measures 3 inches by  4 inches The text is written in an archaic form of Hebrew with Babylonian vowel  markings. It has been dated back to the 9th Century, making it around 400 years  older than the earliest Torah scroll found.  The complete parchment is in its  original  binding. The book’s codex appears to have been created  first, followed by the inside text. The inside of the book is divided into six  sections that discuss topics  including the End Times and the Passover Seder. The first of these  sections features a set  of 100 Jewish blessings.

Dr Jerry Pattengale, executive director of  the Green Scholars Initiative, a research arm of The Green Collection said:  ‘This find is historical evidence  supporting the very fulcrum of Jewish religious life. ‘This Hebrew prayer book helps fill the gap  between the Dead Sea Scrolls and other  discoveries of Jewish texts from the  ninth and 10th centuries.’

The complete parchment which contains Hebrew script so archaic that its founders claim it  ‘incorporates Babylonian vowel pointing’ – is similar to Old or Middle English  when compared to the current English language. It was this early vowel marking that  researchers to date the prayer book in the times of the Geonim; Babylonian and  Talmudic  leaders that were around during the Middle Ages.

The oldest-known Torah scrolls recently dated  by Italian scholars originated between the 12th and 13th centuries, which is 300  and 400 years after the latest Jewish prayer book.

Research on the prayer book – which the Green  Collection claims could the Jewish equivalent of a complete, early edition of  the Christian Book of Common Prayer – will be released by early 2015.

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