You may have heard in passing or come across a reference to them within history class, but some are still unfamiliar with what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. There are close to 600 documents that make up the Dead Sea Scrolls. These documents also include text that hail from the Hebrew Bible.
The Dead Seas Scrolls were uncovered during the time period between 1947 and 1956. The writings were spread across a total of 11 caves, which were situated throughout the Wadi Qumran area. This area can be located close to the ruins left behind by the Khirbet Qumran settlement. On a map, the settlement was positioned on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.
So why are these texts so darn important? They are regarded as presenting religious and historical information of great importance. They serve as the only remnants of Biblical documents, which can be traced back before the time period of AD 100.
With the help of carbon dating and analysis that was completed on the text, it is believed that the scrolls were written between the mid-2nd century BC and 1st century AD. There was a minimum of one document that possessed a carbon date that was connected with the time period between 21 BC-AD 61. When compared to age, the only other document with a history that old is the Nash Papyrus from Egypt. A copy of the Ten Commandments was presented within this text. The material that was used when writing the scrolls was papyrus, but a great deal of writing was also completed on the skin of an animal that was brownish in color.
A wide-range of religious viewpoints is covered throughout the Dead Sea Scrolls. Excerpts from a variety of books and testaments were found within the scrolls, such as: the Hebrew Bible, Book of Ester, Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Testament of Levi, as well as the Rule of War. Some of the scrolls writing was unidentified, which comprised of around 15% of the lot. As for the language that the scrolls are presented in, most of the writing is in Hebrew, while some sections contain Aramaic and Greek text.
The unsolved mystery of these scrolls is trying to fine tune unknown details, such as how they came to be. Some believe that a community of Essenes, who resided within the Quman area, wrote the scrolls. When the Jews rebelled against the Romans, the Essenes were able to hide the scriptures within the cave before they were all slaughtered. This theory is often referred to as the Essene Hypothesis.
Others believe that the scrolls were the brainchild of a group of Zadokite priests, which are also known as Sadducees. A theory involving an early Christian community as being responsible for the scroll also circulates among researchers. The Bible has made reference to lost books, which gives some the idea that the Bible is referring to the Dead Sea Scrolls. One may never know the true origin of these scrolls, but all agree the significance of this find in relation to religion.