The Dead Sea Scrolls

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Travelsong, Apr 13, 2005.

  1. Travelsong

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    I'm curious. What do secular researchers make of them? In other words, I take it that they believe the teachings found in the scrolls confirm that Christian thought was not revolutionary or anything new. Am I close? At the same time I see many theologians who view the scrolls as even more evidence in support of our faith.

    Is there anyone who can give me a better picture?
     
  2. Charles Meadows

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    The traditional camp sees the scrolls as the product of an Essene community which had separated itself from the Temple and its community. Most of the tradtional scroll scholars are NOT fundamentalist but are moderate in theology (Vanderkam, Fitzmyer and others). They would say that the scrolls neither support nor detract from Christianity. Everyone would acknowledge that the scrolls greatly enhance our understanding of how Jews viewed righteousness and faith around the time of Jesus.

    Some others (Schiffman) see them as the product of a Sadducean community. Norman Golb believes that the community was a military stronghold.

    Some liberal types on the "fringe" have related them to Christianity. Robert Eisenman sees John the Baptist as the "teacher pf Righteousness" and sees Jesus as the "wicked priest" (an individual who was evidently challenging the traditional view of the law). This view tend to be seen as "sensationalist" and is not widely respected.
     
  3. Travelsong

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    What exactly do the scrolls contain and how are they dated?
     
  4. Deacon

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  5. TCassidy

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    Found at Qumran between 1947 and 1956 were 900 manuscripts in 25,000 pieces many no larger than a postage stamp.

    A few of the scrolls were well preserved which would include the Great Isaiah Scroll found in Cave 1 and given the designation 1QIsa/a and the Great Psalms Scroll from Cave 11 given the designation 11QPs/a. But, unfortunately, most of the scrolls are just fragments.

    About 45 additional manuscripts were found at Wadi Murabbaat, Nahal Hever, and Masada.

    The manuscripts date from 250BC to 68AD.

    There are two categories of scrolls, "biblical" and "non-biblical."

    Of the 900 manuscripts 215 from Qumran and 12 from the other sites are categorized as "biblical" since they contain material found in the Hebrew canon.

    Of the "biblical" manuscripts parts of every book of the Old Testament can be found with the exception of Esther and Nehemiah.

    There are 37 manuscripts of the Psalms, 30 manuscripts of Deuteronomy, and 21 manuscripts of Isaiah.

    An excellent resource for the student interested in learning about the DDS is "The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible" compiled by Martin Abegg, Jr., Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich and published by Harper San Francisco, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, 1999. ISBN # 0-06-060063-2.

    There is currently a paperback edition available through Amazon.com for $14.93. See http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060600640/qid=1113665376/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-5445016-3898203?v=glance&s=books
     
  6. Ransom

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    What exactly do the scrolls contain and how are they dated?

    Two of the more interesting non-biblical texts found in the DSS:

    </font>
    • The Community Rule. Basically this functions the same as the "rule" of a monastic community, setting out the ethical and social guidelines that govern life in the community.</font>
    • The War Scroll. I heard Martin Abegg give a lecture about this one here in Ottawa about a year ago when the Museum of Civilization had a DSS exhibit. It's a work of Jewish apocalyptic, describing a spiritual war between the Sons of Darkness and the Sons of Light, in which three battles go to the Sons of Light and three to Belial, then God steps in and destroys the sons of Belial utterly. This scroll is notable because a lot of its imagery carries over into the Biblical book of Revelation, suggesting that John was familiar with it.</font>
    There's been a fair bit of nonsense written about the DSS, primarily because the head of the research team in charge of the contents of Qumran cave 4, a member of the Dominican Order, imposed a secrecy rule on the DSS that prevented anyone but team members from inspecting the original materials. Unfortunately they then spent all their time theorizing about the contents instead of actually researching them.

    This led to weird conspiracy theories about coverups because of what the DSS actually revealed. Most notoriously, for example, Baigent and Leigh's Dead Sea Scrolls Deception claimed that the DSS were early Christian documents that proved the biblical account of Jesus' life was a myth invented by Paul, who was actually a Roman agent seeking to undermine Christianity. The "secret" material became public in the early 90s when some scholars just flatly chose to defy the secrecy rule. Of course, it turned out not to be all that sensationalistic, once again proving the axiom that you should never assume conspiracy when stupidity will suffice. The Dominican research team simply wasn't very competent.
     
  7. Gold Dragon

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    Dating of the scrolls was done using carbon dating.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls include:

    Contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Biblical Understanding

    According to the above link, the following books were found in the DSS. Number of copies and fragments in parentheses. Esther is the only OT book of which there is no copy or fragment from.

    Genesis (15)
    Exodus (17)
    Leviticus (13)
    Numbers (8)
    Deuteronomy (29)
    Joshua (2)
    Judges (3)
    1-2 Samuel (4)
    1-2 Kings (3)
    Isaiah (21)
    Jeremiah (6)
    Ezekiel (6)
    Twelve Prophets (8)
    Psalms (36)
    Proverbs (2)
    Job (4)
    Song of Soloman (4)
    Ruth (4)
    Lamentations (4)
    Ecclesiastes (3)
    Esther (0)
    Daniel (8)
    Ezra-Nehemiah (1)
    1-2 Chronicles (1)

    Commentaries were found for the following books
    Isaiah
    Habakkuk
    Hosea
    Micah
    Nahum
    Psalms

    Deuterocanonicals (Protestant Apocrypha) that were found
    Tobit
    Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
    a Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch 6)

    Pseudepigrapha (Catholic & Protestant Apocryphal books) that were found
    Psalm 151
    Enoch (1 Enoch)
    Jubilees
    Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

    Additionally found among the DSS were other apocryphal writings that were previously unknown to biblical scholars including statements of belief, regulations and membership requirements for the Jewish sect believed to be the Essenes that left us the DSS.
     

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