World’s Oldest Jewish Prayer Book Is Discovered in Hobby Lobby Owners’ Collection — and the Implications Could Be Significant

Hobby Lobby President Steve Green isn’t just the head of a popular craft chain. He and his family also own, oversee and operate “The Green Collection,” one of the world’s largest collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts (there are over 40,000 ancient relics and texts). A recent discovery within this fascinating compilation is making headlines this week, as it is believed to be the oldest Jewish prayer book ever found.

The small text, which had a Carbon-14 test that placed its origins to 840 A.D., is likely to provide fascinating insight into early Jewish culture. And, as a press release announcing the find highlights, it “may well be the earliest connection today’s practicing Jews have to the roots of their modern-day rabbinic liturgy.”

Plainly stated: It’s a big deal.

The Jewish prayer book (Photo Credit: The Green Collection/Demoss)

The document is in its complete parchment and original binding, factoids that are quite stunning considering its age. Written in Hebrew, the script is described as “archaic” — so old in fact that it uses Babylonian vowel pointing (a system that is no longer in use).

This follows another big discovery earlier this year. Back in May, TheBlaze reported that the world’s oldest known complete Torah scroll was found. While that was certainly noteworthy, this new prayer book is actually 300 to 400 years older than that version of the Torah, providing an even deeper knowledge into the lives and religious practices of Jewish believers.

“This find is historical evidence supporting the very fulcrum of Jewish religious life,” said Dr. Jerry Pattengale, who directs the Green Collection’s research arm, the Green Scholars Initiative, in the release. “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.”

Another view of the Jewish prayer book (Photo Credit: The Green Collection/Demoss)

The statement goes on to note that research is currently being conducted on the book and that details will be released in late 2014 or early 2015 by the Green Scholars Initiative.

As we’ve reported in the past, many of the historical elements in The Green Collection will be included in a national Bible museum that is being constructed in Washington, D.C. and set to open in 2017. The prayer book will be on display, offering those interested a first-hand look.

It should also be noted that this is only one of a number of discoveries that is likely to be released from inside The Green Collection this year, as a team is still analyzing the 40,000 artifacts to better understand their importance. TheBlaze will continue to cover these fascinating finds.

(H/T: Christianity Today)