Dead Sea Scrolls

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

In 1947 in a cave near the Dead sea in the Jordan Desert, a fifteen year old boy chased after one of his goats that wandered off. This boy's name was Muhammad adh-Dhib. While going after his goat, the boy stumbled upon perhaps the greatest religious discovery of the modern era. Inside the cave, he found broken jars that contained scrolls written in a strange language, wrapped in linen cloth and leather. These scrolls would later become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. This first discovery produced seven scrolls and started an archaeological search that produced thousands of scroll fragments in eleven caves.

The Dead Sea is located in Israel and Jordan, east of Jerusalem. The dead sea is very deep, salty, and it's the lowest body of water in the world. Because the dead sea is at such a low elevation, the climate has a high evaporation rate but a very low humidity which helped to preserve the scrolls. Archaeologists searched for the dwelling of the people that may have left the scrolls in the caves. The archaeologists excavated a ruin located between the cliffs where the scrolls were found and the dead sea. This ruin is called Qumran.

The ruins and the scrolls were dated by the carbon method and found to be from the third century which made them the oldest surviving biblical manuscript by at least 1000 years. Since the first discoveries archaeologists have found over 800 scrolls and scroll fragments in 11 different caves in the surrounding area. In fact, there are about 100,000 fragments found in all, most of which were written on goat skin and sheep skin. A few were on papyrus, a plant used to make paper, but one scroll was engraved on copper sheeting telling of sixty buried treasure sites. Because the scrolls containing the directions to the treasures is unable to be fully unrolled, the treasures have not been found yet. In all, the texts of the scrolls were remarkable. They contained unknown psalms, Bible commentary, calendar text, mystical texts, apocalyptic texts, liturgical texts, purity laws , bible stories, and fragments of every book in the Old Testament except that of Esther, including a imaginative paraphrase of the Book of Genesis. Also found were texts, in the original languages, of several books of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. These texts, none of which was included in the Hebrew canon of the Bible, are Tobit, ...

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...ristianity and an important time in Jewish history.

The scrolls have been giving an insight into the lives and customs of the people who lived in a time of Roman invasion and Jewish history. Although the text do not hold all the answers, they do give people a tool to use when studying biblical history. Very few scholars had access to the scrolls before copies of the scrolls were published in the 1990's; now we all have a chance to read an come to our own conclusions about the text. Whether the scrolls uphold Jewish or Christian beliefs is not the only interesting part of the scrolls. The text also gives a more personal look at the people who lived in a major part of Jewish history.


Burrows, Millar. (1955). The Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Grammercy Publishing Company

Roth, Cecil. (1965). The Dead Sea Scrolls. A New Historical Approach. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Schubert, Kurt . (1959). The Dead Sea Community. Great Britain: Bowering Press Plymouth.

Shanks, Hershel. (1998). The Mystery And Meaning Of The Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Random House.

Vermes, Geza. (1997). The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. New York: Penguin Putnam.

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