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Veritas Seminary Receives 500 Year-Old Rare Hebrew Torah Scroll

Contact: Deborah DeLargy, 714-966-8500; National Apologetics Conference


SANTA ANA, Calif., Dec. 1, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- In the presence of 1500 attendees at its annual National Apologetics Conference, Veritas Evangelical Seminary received and dedicated a rare Hebrew Torah scroll. The donors, Ken and Barbara Larson, are passionate about Israel and the Bible, visiting the archaeologically rich nation four times. On one of these visits the Larsons secured a rare, authentic Torah written in the Hebrew language that reflects the scribal copying process of the medieval Hebrew scribes. The Torah (i.e., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), also known as "The Pentateuch" and "The Five Books of Moses," provides the foundation for Jewish life, law, and worship. Faithful copyists carefully transmitted it for millennia using scrolls. "It is our prayer that this gift will enhance the learning process of all who will see and study this Torah," said Barbara. "It's our delight to present it to Veritas Seminary."


The non-kosher scroll dates from A.D. 1550 to 1650 and is suitable for both public display and educational purposes. According to ancient manuscript specialist, Dr. Scott Carroll, of the Manuscript Research Group, the Torah was "written in Hebrew on cream/white vellum (calf skin) measuring about 106 feet long in dark brown and black ink with scribal characteristics common to those in Germany and in the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th century." He adds, "The [Hebrew] script in the first half of the manuscript is written in a script distinctive to Germany and the Czech Republic (Bohemia), the large, square letters characteristic found in the second half are distinctive of the Netherlands."


The Veritas Torah was used for five centuries and is a testimony to the community that preserved it through horrific times of persecution. It survived the darkest chapters of history through World War II, when Jewish survivors of the Holocaust brought the Torah to Israel where it eventually found its way to an Israeli collector. Then it was secured by the Larsons who on November 7, 2014, graciously donated it to Veritas Evangelical Seminary. Joseph Holden, president of the seminary, and Forrest Weiland, professor of biblical studies, expressed the seminary faculty's gratitude for the priceless gift as well as the manuscript's educational value and its legacy. President Holden said, "This generous donation by the Larsons reflects their total love for God's Word and commitment to aiding students, faculty, and the community in the study and appreciation of the transmission and preservation of the Scriptures. Ironically, the very Word of God the Jewish scribes sought to preserve through such pains-taking efforts is actually nourishing us through its spiritual content."


The Veritas Torah is one of these rare, authentic scrolls, and includes many features that make it an important object of study. The scroll contains hundreds of erasures, corrections, alternative readings, and patches that will give seminary students a firsthand engagement with an artifact that will teach them about the preservation of the Bible spanning the centuries. Despite these corrections the textual content is nearly identical to our English Bible as well as earlier Hebrew scrolls. In addition, this particular scroll is sturdy enough for practical use by faculty and students for in-depth analysis. The donors also have arranged for Veritas Seminary faculty and students to access a digitized copy of the scroll so they can study the Torah from anywhere. Academic Dean, Joel Wingo, said, "Each fine detail of this hand-copied Torah is a reminder of the inestimable value the scribes saw in these Scriptures. Seeing the scroll on display at the Seminary will be a vivid testimony of the great value of God's Word."


The original scroll will be put on display in the Veritas Seminary Library in Santa Ana.