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TUA receives ancient Torah scroll

13 April 2022

TUA receives ancient Torah scroll

Apeldoorn, 13 April 2022 - A special moment during the staff meeting at the TUA on Tuesday 5 April: with great care a large, round package was opened, which revealed an ancient Torah scroll. This scroll was donated to the university by the American ‘God's Ancient Library’.

God's Ancient Library is an institution of the American couple Ken and Barbara Larson. They have donated nearly one hundred Torah scrolls to seminaries, universities, museums and similar institutions both in North America and elsewhere in the world. They want to give these Torah scrolls, which are pasul (unsuitable for use in worship), in this way a new life. The scroll that the TUA received was purchased from the Ben David Collection in Jerusalem, the largest private collection of Torah scrolls in the world.

The scroll was declared pasul long before the Nazi devastations in World War II, and survived because, as a non-kosher scroll, it was kept somewhere in a geniza (a storeroom at a synagogue where old pasul manuscripts are kept). The scroll was taken by refugees to Israel and sold to the Ben David Collection in 2010. In 2019, the Larsons there purchased this Torah scroll. They wrote to the TUA:
“This Torah is a vibrant testimony to a living tradition. It speaks to God’s care for His people and for His Word. The Torah has survived the darkest chapter of modern history, the horrors of the Holocaust. It is a living memorial to the loving commitment of those who wrote it, cared for it and read it over the past two centuries. It is hoped that the scroll will find a new community of faith with the ministry at your seminary.”

The scroll, dating from the end of the 19th century, contains the entire Torah (i.e. the Biblical books of Genesis to Deuteronomy). The university will provide the parchment scroll with wooden sticks and a wooden 'cupboard', so that it can be used with care. After all, this is a precious possession that must be handled with caution and respect! When everything is ready, the scroll will be used during the Hebrew and Old Testament exegesis classes, for example, by having the students read the text from the Torah scroll, which is quite a challenge for them, considering that the text is unvocalised, meaning that it has no vowel marks.

The TUA is grateful to God's Ancient Library for the donated scroll, and hopes to make good use of it.

Prof. Peels examines the received Torah scroll.