Dead Sea Scrolls Essay, Research Paper
The Dead Sea Scrolls are documents of great historical and scholarly value, found in 1947 and later in caves above the North West Dead Sea. Archaeologists have shown that the scrolls stored in jars in the first cave at QUMRAN were written or copied between the 1st century B.C. and the first half of the 1st century A.D. Chief among the scrolls are two copies of the Book of Isaiah, almost 1,000 years older than any Hebrew biblical manuscript previously known. Another important scroll was the so-called Manual of Discipline for an ascetic community, which has been identified with both the ruins at nearby QUMRAN and the Essenes, a Jewish religious sect living an ascetic communal agricultural life in that region between the 2nd century B.C. and 2nd century A.D. Parallels between the Qumran scrolls and the New Testament have led some scholars to suggest a tie between the Essenes and the early Christians, including the much-disputed suggestion that Jesus and John the Baptist may have The Dead been Essenes. More recent work by other archaeologists and biblical scholars has questioned the association of the scrolls with the Qumran ruins and the Essenes.
Here are some facts about the the Dea Sea Scrolls:The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between the years 1947 and 1956. The area is 13 miles east of Jerusalem and is 1300 feet below sea level. The mostly fragmented texts are numbered according to the cave that they came out of. They have been called the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times. Only Caves 1 and 11 have produced relatively intact manuscripts. Discovered in 1952, Cave 4 produced the largest find. About 15,000 fragments from more than 500 manuscripts were found. In all, scholars have identified the remains of about 825 to 870 separate scrolls.The Scrolls can be divided into two categories – biblical and non-biblical. Fragments of every book of the Hebrew canon (Old Testament) have been discovered except for the book of Esther.
There are now identified among the scrolls, 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms . Prophecies by Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel not found in the Bible are written in the Scrolls.The Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact, is 1000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah. In fact, the scrolls are the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found. In the Scrolls are found never before seen psalms attributed to King David and Joshua.There are no biblical writings along the order of commentaries on the OT, paraphrases that expand on the Law, rulebooks of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and septennial (wisdom) writings.
The Scrolls are for the most part, written in Hebrew, but there are many written in Aramaic. Aramaic was the common language of the Jews of Palestine for the last two centuries B.C. and of the first two centuries A.D. The discovery of the Scrolls has greatly enhanced our knowledge of these two languages. In addition, there are a few texts written in Greek. The Scrolls appear to be the library of a Jewish sect. The library was hidden away in caves around the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70) as the Roman army advanced against the rebel Jews. Near the caves are the ancient ruins of Qumran. They were excavated in the early 1950’s and appear to be connected with the scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls were most likely written by the Essenes during the period from about 200 B.C. to 68 C.E./A.D. The Essenes are mentioned by Josephus and in a few other sources, but not in the New Testament. The Essenes were a strict Torah observant, Messianic, apocalyptic, Baptist, wilderness, new covenant Jewish sect. A priest they called the Teacher of Righteousness, who was opposed and possibly killed by the establishment priesthood in Jerusalem, led them.
The enemies of the Qumran community were called the “Sons of Darkness”; they called themselves the “Sons of Light,” “the poor,” and members of “the Way.” They thought of themselves as “the holy ones,” who lived in “the house of holiness,” because “the Holy Spirit” dwelt with them. The last words of Joseph, Judah, Levi, Naphtali, and Amram (the father of Moses) are written down in the Scrolls. One of the most curious scrolls is the Copper Scroll. Discovered in Cave 3, this scroll records a list of 64 underground hiding places throughout the land of Israel. The deposits are to contain certain amounts of gold, silver, aromatics, and manuscripts. These are believed to be treasures from the Temple at Jerusalem, which were hidden away for safekeeping. The Temple Scroll, found in Cave 11, is the longest scroll. Its present total length is 26.7 feet (8.148 meters). The overall length of the scroll must have been over 28 feet (8.75m). The scrolls contain previously unknown stories about biblical figures such as Enoch, Abraham, and Noah. The story of Abraham includes an explanation why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Issac.