In 1948, William Albright, who is one of the popular archaeologists claimed that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was one of the chief breakthroughs in the 20th century (Berg, 2009).
The scrolls were found in a cave in the neighborhood of Khirbet Qumran. There were a number of artifacts in the cave, which ranged from pottery to the scrolls. Nevertheless, the most important discovery was the scrolls. The manuscripts were written in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew, which were the main lingos of the Bible. This paper will discuss the significance of the Dead Sea scrolls.
According to Berg, “The manuscripts preserved lost readings with Messianic implications” (2009, p. 71). He quoted Psalm 22: 16 as one of the significant passages to both Christians and Jews. What’s more, the scrolls contained some readings that were difficult to understand and, which gave an account of Christ’s persecution, death and resurrection.
Apart from the biblical scriptures, there were about 650 non-biblical scrolls that were discovered at the same time (Berg, 2009). The non-biblical manuscripts held a wealth of information, which was not known to intellectuals. Hirschfeld (2004) divided the scrolls into five groups which were “Rules and regulations, poetic and wisdom texts, reworked or rewritten scriptures, commentaries or pesharim, and miscellaneous writings” (p. 113).
No Christian personalities were featured in the Dead Sea scrolls (Hirschfeld, 2004). Moreover, the scrolls were not authored by Christians implying that they had no connection with Christianity or Jesus. Nonetheless, a number of the manuscripts offered information that was crucial for knowing Jesus, his teachings and his personal life. Furthermore, the papers shed light on the Gospel by explaining the life and beliefs of the Jewish community during and before Christ.
The manuscripts also helped people to see the distinction between the Jewish and Christ’s teachings (Hirschfeld, 2004). Some of the scrolls revealed that Christ’s lessons were not a creation of the later church. Instead, the teachings were predicted in the previous writings. Some of the documents shared the same words with the present Gospel.
They indicated that some people knew about the message in the Gospel prior to the coming of Jesus. Hirschfeld (2004) alleged that there was a close relationship between the Apocryphon of Daniel found in the scrolls and the message in gospel of Luke.
Quite a lot of the non-biblical scrolls gave an account of the Qumran society, whom the majority of the intellectuals regarded to as Essenes (Magness, 2002). Many people knew a lot about the Sadducees and Pharisees, who were the two major Jewish communities during Christ’s period.
However, some scrolls delved deeper into the Jewish communities and provided interesting information about the groups, which many scholars did not know. For instance, the scriptures narrated about the stiff rivalry that existed between the various Jewish communities (Magness, 2002). Each community considered itself as the selected people of God, and this did not go well with the other communities.
Before the unearthing of the Dead Sea scrolls, there was no information about the Second Temple Period that existed in Israel (Magness, 2002). Today, there are many documents that account for the Second Temple Period, thanks to the discovery. What’s more, the relic of the biblical scrolls is of great significance to the evangelical intellectuals. Barely all the Hebrew Bibles we see today are written from the Dead Sea scrolls. This shows how important the discovery was for the preservation of Hebrew Bible and teachings.
Berg, S. (2009). Insights into the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Beginner’s Guide. Charleston, South Carolina: BookSurge Publishing.
Hirschfeld, Y. (2004). Qumran in Context: Reassessing the Archaeological Evidence. London: Hendrickson Publishers.
Magness, J. (2002). The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Cambridge: Eerdmans.