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What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

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November 02, 2016 8:26AM

To date they are probably the single most significant archeological discovery relating to the Bible. They confirm empirically, for all to see, what had previously been believed, namely, that the scribes who copied the Old Testament scriptures did so with the utmost accuracy. The few differences between the text of the Old Testament from Qmran, obviously much closer to the originals, and the surviving texts from much later confirms how greatly accurate was the hand copying process.

Further to this, a number of other important discoveries were among the Qmran manusctipts, including a fragment of the Gospel of Mark, old enough to be an original, dated before AD 70. The other significant find was an entire Isaiah scroll, thus refuting the documentary ideas of an Isaiah written by multiple authors at different times.

If you have a question about the Dead Sea scrolls, feel free to ask.

Answer 2

They are parchment scrolls found in 1947 in the Judean Desert, which date back some 2100 years. They were apparently written by a non-traditional group such as the Essenes, but nonetheless they demonstrate (in some cases) that the Masoretic Text is as accurate as tradition says it is.

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December 16, 2014 5:00AM

The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of about 1,000 documents and fragments discovered between 1947 and 1979 in eleven caves near the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The texts have religious and historical significance as they include practically the only known surviving copies of biblical documents made before 100 CE, and provide a snapshot of the text of the Old Testament at a particularly important time in Jewish history. They preserve evidence of considerable diversity of belief and practice within late Second Temple Judaism.

The scrolls include texts from the Hebrew Bible, as well as secular documents and rules governing the members of a community that existed at Qumran prior to its destruction after 70 CE.


Some of the fragments are so small that even their meaning can be disputed. The fragment known as 7Q5 may resemble verses 6:52-3 from Mark's Gospel, depending in part on whether a space in the text is a paragraph space or even just an inadvertent gap in a compound word. And if it is consistent with the two verses, we can not say whether it is from a larger document that Mark used for inspiration, or is part of an early draft of the Gospel, or perhaps a fragment of a particularly early manuscript of the Gospel itself. If the Gospel was written in the Qumran community, this would certainly turn our understanding of the origins of Christianity upside down, but the consensus of scholars is that this fragment is not from Mark.


Many of the scrolls refer to a "Teacher of Righteousness" who seems to have lived sometime between the second century BCE and the first century CE. Some scholars, such as Professor Robert Eisenman (The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians) have suggested that Christianity really did evolve in the Community and that Jesus was really the Teacher of Righteousness.

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October 10, 2014 1:12PM

They are parchment scrolls found in 1947 in the Judean Desert, which date back some 2100 years. They were apparently written by a non-traditional group such as the Essenes, but nonetheless they demonstrate (in some cases) that the Masoretic Text is as accurate as tradition says it is.