Dead Sea Scrolls

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  • Topic: Dead Sea scrolls, Qumran, Bible
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  • Published : March 22, 2005
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The Dead Sea Scrolls
In 1947 in a cave near the Dead sea in the Jordan Desert, a fifteen year old boy chased after one of his goats that wandered off. This boy's name was Muhammad adh-Dhib. While going after his goat, the boy stumbled upon perhaps the greatest religious discovery of the modern era. Inside the cave, he found broken jars that contained scrolls written in a strange language, wrapped in linen cloth and leather. These scrolls would later become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. This first discovery produced seven scrolls and started an archaeological search that produced thousands of scroll fragments in eleven caves. The Dead Sea is located in Israel and Jordan, east of Jerusalem. The dead sea is very deep, salty, and it's the lowest body of water in the world. Because the dead sea is at such a low elevation, the climate has a high evaporation rate but a very low humidity which helped to preserve the scrolls. Archaeologists searched for the dwelling of the people that may have left the scrolls in the caves. The archaeologists excavated a ruin located between the cliffs where the scrolls were found and the dead sea. This ruin is called Qumran.

The ruins and the scrolls were dated by the carbon method and found to be from the third century which made them the oldest surviving biblical manuscript by at least 1000 years. Since the first discoveries archaeologists have found over 800 scrolls and scroll fragments in 11 different caves in the surrounding area. In fact, there are about 100,000 fragments found in all, most of which were written on goat skin and sheep skin. A few were on papyrus, a plant used to make paper, but one scroll was engraved on copper sheeting telling of sixty buried treasure sites. Because the scrolls containing the directions to the treasures is unable to be fully unrolled, the treasures have not been found yet. In all, the texts of the scrolls were remarkable. They contained unknown psalms, Bible commentary, calendar text, mystical texts, apocalyptic texts, liturgical texts, purity laws , bible stories, and fragments of every book in the Old Testament except that of Esther, including a imaginative paraphrase of the Book of Genesis. Also found were texts, in the original languages, of several books of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. These texts, none of which was included in the Hebrew canon of the Bible, are Tobit, Sirach, Jubilees, portions of Enoch, and the Testament of Levi, up to this time known only in early Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Ethiopic versions. John Trever of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research was allowed to investigate the scrolls and was stunned to find that the scrolls closely resemble the Nash Papyrus, the once known oldest fragment of the Hebrew Bible dated at or around 150 BC. One of the scrolls was a complete copy of the book of the prophet Isaiah. Trever also examined three other scrolls; the Manual of Discipline, a commentary on the book of Habbakuk, and one called the Genesis Apocryphon. Trever took photographs of the texts to William Foxwell Albright of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, who declared the scrolls dated back to around 100 BC.

The scroll and fragments found in the Qumran is a library of information that contains books or works written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Many scholars separated the scrolls into three different categories: Biblical - Books found in the Hebrew Bible. Apocryphal or psuedepigraphical - Works not in some Bibles but included in others. Sectarian- ordinances, biblical commentaries, apocalyptic visions, and sacred works. One of the longer texts found in Qumran is the Tehillim or Psalms Scroll. It was found in 1956 in cave 11 and unrolled in 1961. It is a assortment of Psalms, hymns and an indifferent passage about the psalms authored by King David. It is written on sheep skin parchment and it has the thickest surface of any of the scrolls. The Manual Of Discipline or Community...
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