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Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient leather and papyrus scrolls first discovered in 1947 in caves on the NW shore of the Dead Sea. Most of the documents were written or copied between the 1st cent. BC and the first half of the 1st cent. AD

Scrolls of the Qumran Caves

Three types of documents have been found in the caves near Qumran: copies of books of the Hebrew Bible, e.g., Isaiah, of which two almost complete scrolls have been found; copies of books now collected in the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, e.g., Tobit, 1 Enoch, and Jubilees; and documents composed by an ascetic community, e.g., a book of community rules called The Manual of Discipline, an allegorical account of the community called The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness, a group of devotional poems called The Thanksgiving Psalms, a commentary on the Book of Habakkuk, and an extensive work, known as the Temple Scroll, containing ritual law.

Documents from the third group have been identified by some scholars with the Essenes, a Jewish religious sect living an ascetic communal agricultural life in the region between the 2d cent. BC and 2d cent. AD It has also been hypothesized that the Qumran scrolls are the secreted library of a community, perhaps Essene, that lived at Qumran, and thus survived the destruction of the settlement in c.AD 68. Startling parallels in expression and thought between the Qumran materials and the New Testament have led to speculation as to their influence on early Christianity. The Temple Scroll, for instance, revealed a list of rules of conduct resembling standard Christian ethics. Some scholars have tried to establish that Jesus and John the Baptist were influenced by, or members of, a Qumran Essene community, but such interpretations are widely disputed. More recent work by other archaeologists and biblical scholars has questioned the association of the scrolls with the Qumran ruins and the Essenes.

Other Texts

Other texts, not related to the Qumran scrolls, have been found in the area around the Dead Sea. At Masada other scrolls were found, including manuscripts of Sirach and the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice. In the caves at Wadi Murabbaat, c.11 mi (18 km) S of Qumran, many documents were found concerning Bar Kokba's army, as well as more biblical manuscripts. Other documents from the Bar Kokba era were discovered in caves S of En Gedi. These findings, written in Greek, Aramaic, and Nabataean, included biblical fragments, psalms, various legal documents, and a lost Greek translation of the minor prophets. The oldest documents, found at a site 8 mi (13 km) N of Jericho, were left by Samarians massacred by Alexander the Great in 331 BC

Control and Publication of the Scrolls

Most of the originals of the scrolls are at the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem; the rest are at the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. The intact scrolls and other materials were published in the decades following their discovery, but many fragments remained unpublished and under the control of a small group of scholars, originally appointed by Jordanian officials, and their intellectual heirs. As a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, control of all the scrolls passed to the Israeli Antiquities Authority. International dissatisfaction with the limited access allowed to, and the slow rate of publication of, the scrolls that remained unpublished led the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., to allow (1991) scholars access to its set of master negatives of the scrolls despite the objections of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Subsequently the authority removed its restrictions on the use of the unpublished scrolls, and expedited the publication of them.

Bibliography

See texts published in the series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (39 vol., 1955–2002); T. H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures (1976); M. A. Knibb, The Qumran Community (1987); L. H. Schiffman, The Eschatological Community of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1989); J. A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls (rev. ed. 1990); H. Shanks et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls after 40 Years (1991); H. Shanks, ed., Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls (1992); L. H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls (1994); N. A. Silberman, The Hidden Scrolls (1994); N. Golb, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls (1995); H. Shanks, The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1998); G. Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (rev. ed. 2004); J. J. Collins, The Dead Sea Scrolls (2012).

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"Dead Sea Scrolls." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Dead Sea Scrolls

DEAD SEA SCROLLS

Ancient religious documents.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient manuscripts found at Khirbat Qumran, in caves in the Judean desert near the Dead Sea, 7.5 miles (12 km) from Jericho. The scrolls were uncovered in 1947. Archaeologists later discovered a cemetery of over one thousand graves, a central building, and central caves containing fragments of old documents. The area was apparently destroyed by an earthquake in 31 b.c.e. and then rebuilt. The authors of the scrolls lived there until 68 c.e. The contents of the scrolls and other evidence show that the authors belonged to a Jewish sect. The scrolls or fragments include two complete copies of Isaiah and fragments of nearly every other book of the Bible. Their discovery advanced the study of the Hebrew Bible, since the earliest versions before the scrolls were discovered dated to the Middle Ages. Fragments of the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha and other unknown books were also found, including the Book of Tobit, the Hebrew version of Jubilees, and the Aramaic version of the Book of Enoch. The scrolls include sectarian books as well, including a commentary on Habakkuk, parts of a commentary on Micah and Nahum, and others. These commentaries explain the prophetic writings in relation to the history of the sect. Other scrolls deal with the sect's organization and theological doctrines. They also contain fragments of the Zadokite documents that were found in Cairo. The Temple scroll minutely details the Temple. The sect responsible for the scrolls was assumed to have been the Essenes, but recent scholarship has placed this thesis in doubt. They beheld the power of good ruling in a world in opposition to the power of evil, and they saw themselves as the chosen "sons of light."

Their apocalyptic circles, among whom Enoch was composed, probably influenced the beginnings of Christianity, especially those close to Paul and John the Evangelist.

Some of the scrolls came into the possession of Hebrew University through E. L. Sukenik, who was responsible for the first publication of selections. Others went to the United States where they were published by Burrows, Brownlee and were subsequently purchased for the government of Israel through the agency of Sukenik's son, Yigael Yadin. They are housed in the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum. The publication of the many fragments was entrusted to a group of scholars whose slow progress generated international controversy. In 1991, the system was overhauled to ensure speedy publication. The Huntington Library in San Marino, California, in the interim, published photographs of the collection and made them available without restrictions.

See also Yadin, Yigael.


Bibliography

Charlesworth, James, ed. The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations: Pseudepigraphic and Non-Masoretic Psalms and Prayers (Dead Sea Scrolls, No. 4, Part A). Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998.

Davies, Philip R. The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

Garcia, Florentíno Martínez, and Tigchelaar, Eibert, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.

Reed, Stephen A. The Dead Sea Scrolls Catalogue: Documents, Photographs and Museum Inventory Numbers. Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1994.

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"Dead Sea Scrolls." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Dead Sea Scrolls." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dead-sea-scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls. Collection of manuscripts found in caves near the Dead Sea. The scrolls, discovered between 1947 and 1956, date mainly between c.150 BCE and 68 CE. They seem to have belonged to a succession of communities based at Qumran, the last of which was destroyed by the Romans in the first Jewish revolt. They include manuscripts which seem to relate to a community or communities based in Qumran: the Manual of Discipline, the Damascus Document, the Thanksgiving Psalms, and the War Scroll.

The identification of those who produced the sectarian documents has been much disputed. Scholarly consensus favours a group closely related to the Essenes. However, it is at least equally likely that Qumran, because of its remoteness, was a haven of refuge for conservative groups in more than one period, who disapproved of (or were persecuted by) those who were running the Temple in Jerusalem.

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"Dead Sea Scrolls." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Dead Sea Scrolls." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dead-sea-scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls Ancient manuscripts discovered from 1947 in caves at Qumran near the Dead Sea. Written in Hebrew or Aramaic, they date from between the 1st century bc and the 1st century ad. They include versions of much of the Old Testament and other types of religious literature. Some are a thousand years older than any other biblical manuscript.

http://rutgers.edu/iho/dss.html

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