The Torah Scroll from Vilna, Lithuania
Written 1750 between 1770
4 Scribal oddities first day of Creation
Dr Colin Smith (1955 – 2008) Hebrew Professor from Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania was par excellence among the Hebrew professors I have worked with. His practical way of teaching using the basis of “how can I use Hebrew in my life” sparked the interest of students and produced really large energetic Hebrew classes. In 2005 we loaned Dr. Smith the Torah Scroll from Vilna, Lithuania to have his advanced Hebrew students photograph all the Scribal oddities contained in the Scroll. They studied and photographed the Scroll the fall semester of 2005 and spring semester of 2006. They found hundreds of embellishments and letter variances.
Dr Smith was a good friend of Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. and he asked if they would like to publish an article on the Vilna Torah in their Magazine “Israel My Glory”. Their January/February 2006 used his article and a few photographs for a two page centerfold article.
Of the many scribal oddities in the Scroll, this photograph of the first day of creation in Genesis 1:1-5 shows four variances in calligraphy.
Sofer’s (Scribe) quill used to write a Torah Scroll in Dallas, Texas
In June 2004 we sent an individual to Jerusalem to purchase several non kosher Hebrew Scrolls for educational purposes to be used among Gentile Christians. It had been my goal to place in the hands of Christin seminaries, colleges, Bible schools, Bible translators, and churches portions of fragmented non kosher Hebrew Scrolls. Over 300 museum quality frames have been made to hold these fragmented pieces and were donated throughout the world.
Hebrew Scrolls have been very rare among Gentile Christians. Our Bible commentaries and Bible dictionaries rarely contained photographs of authentic Hebrew Scrolls. Most of the time an artist would draw a Scroll and add a few squiggly lines to represent Hebrew writing and pass these off as Scrolls. In the university and seminary I attended I was able to find only one authentic photograph of a Scroll among all the books available. (excluding Dead Sea Scrolls) The Scroll I found was of Esther and the publisher had printed the Scroll upside down. (Hebrew always looks best upside down to those not familiar with Hebrew.)
During the trip to Jerusalem in 2004 two Jewish Sofers (Scribes) heard about what we were doing and asked “Do Gentiles really honor and respect our Scrolls?” They were very pleased to know more about this project and offered Several non kosher scrolls to help us. One of the Scrolls was a Torah Scroll from Vilnius, Lithuania.
We are starting this blog so you can view this Scroll of which hundreds of high resolution photographs will be shown as the blog moves on.