Many people have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but they don’t realize the significance of them. Here’s another blog post on the Bible–this time I look at those scrolls.
Dead Sea Scrolls
For a lot of reasons, biblical scholars were excited at the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. In a dusty, dry desert area called Qumran (northwest of the Dead Sea), jars containing ancient manuscripts were found. A group of individuals who wished to live separate from society, called Essenes, hid these manuscripts in the time of Jesus, probably to keep them from falling into the hands of Roman soldiers.
There are scrolls that deal with Essene practices, but the big news was the discovery of Old Testament scrolls (the entire Old Testament except for the book of Esther was found). Up until then, the oldest copy of the Hebrew Bible had been from around 1000 A.D. Scholars were not sure how much of the Bible had changed between the time when the books were written and 1000 A.D. , roughly 1700 years in the case of the book of Isaiah. What scholars discovered was amazing – there were no significant changes between the Dead Sea Scrolls and copies from 1000 A.D. They concluded, therefore, that what we have probably accurately reflects the original manuscripts written centuries before.
By the way, Dan Brown, who wrote The Da Vinci Code, claims to be such a careful scholar, but he got it wrong when he referred to the Dead Sea Scrolls. He said there were gospels that mentioned Jesus, but that was not true. No Dead Sea Scroll made any reference to the life of Jesus. That was just one of many errors found throughout Dan Brown’s popular book.