The familiarity of the great texts of the New Testament can obscure the achievements of their writers. In its first three verses, the First Epistle of John joins "the eternal life that was with the Father" with the physical presence of Jesus, who has been seen with eyes and touched with hands.
Over ten years ago Andrew Walls, the renowned historian and mission theologian, with whom I was studying at Princeton Theological Seminary, mentioned that one of his students had begun researching African immigrant churches in New York City. The student, according to Walls, was literally walking block by block in the city looking for these churches, of which very little was known at the time.
Nearly 50 years ago, archaeologists found a charred and unreadable ancient scroll in a synagogue near the Dead Sea. Thanks to “virtual unwrapping,” a new technology developed at the University of Kentucky, the text is now readable. It is a fragment from the book of Leviticus that is identical to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, the authoritative version often used to translate the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles (New York Times, September 21).