US Universities receive words of God
Some of the oldest texts in the world reach California
Azusa University has acquired 5 pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls, each about the size of an adult's palm, one from a Christian ministry in Phoenix and the other four of them from a dealer in Venice.
Meantime, Loyola Marymount has a leaf out of an original Gutenberg bible on display.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a set of caves starting in 1947.
There are 950 pieces of text in all, and there is a frantic - if painstakingly careful - scramble to get hold of and study the fragments.
They date from around the time of Jesus and include recognisable biblical text, including Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
Azusa's pieces include a scrap of text from the book of Daniel.
Robert Duke, assistant professor of biblical studies is hugely excited by them: "They are 2,000 years old, and you can still see letters with the naked eye."
Another piece, which has already been studied, is from Deuteronomy, and refers to a different mountain in a passage in which Jews are instructed to build an altar on a mountain compared to modern bibles, suggesting that this may be the original, and the text has been altered by a Jewish faction from another territory.
The Gutenberg bible is a different proposition: it dates from the 1450s when printing presses were newly created (by Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith).
It is still an historical piece, and also in beautiful condition, with the cream-coloured pages and thick Gothic text decorated in the same way a hand-written copy would be.
The bible leaf, which shows a section of Isaiah, has been estimated as being worth $50,000-100,000 if it came up for auction.
A fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls would be worth more, but isn't likely to be available for private ownership.