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Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are spiritual scriptures with an estimated 42,000 followers. The first seven Dead Sea Scrolls were founded by Muhammad edh-Dhib, a Bedouin shepherd, in 1947 in a cave on a cliff overlooking the north-western shore of Israel's Dead Sea. The Arabic name for the area is Qumran, which is about 13 miles East of Jerusalem. (Note that this is desert area.)

Between 1947 and 1956, thousands of scrolls that were wrapped in linen and placed in clay jars were recovered from eleven caves in Qumran. Note that many scrolls are fragmented or are decomposing. Some consist of fragment bits only. Also, most scrolls were made animal skins (or leather), some from papyrus(or parchment) and one out of copper.

On the scrolls, there were about 800-900 manuscripts, that were mostly written by the Hebrew sect of people (or Jews) called the Essenes in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

One of the manuscripts is the The Manual of Discipline, which documented who the Essenes were and their beliefs. This included their communal living rules, penal code and theology. The Essenes required one to give away all worldly possessions, initiation to join the group and seriously study their spiritual scriptures.

According to 1st-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and Jewish philosopher Philo Judeaus of Alexandria and Roman historian Pliny the Elder, the Essenes were a celibate group of men. Simply, the Essenes were a monastic-like brotherhood.

The Dead Sea Scrolls include almost all of the books of the Old Testament and they are the oldest existing copies of these books of the Holy Bible. The University of Arizona used Carbon-14 dating, (which was used to date the Shroud of Turin to the Middle Ages) to date some parchment from the Dead Sea Scrolls to be between 150 B.C. and 5 B.C. and confirm some dates that are written within the manuscripts. (Previously, the oldest copies of these Hebrew books of the Old Testament dated back to the 9th and 10th Centuries, A.D. only.)

Despite the fact that archeological and scientific data date many of the scroll's composition prior to Jesus Christ's birth, many ideas and phrases in the New Testament (of the Holy Bible) can be found in these Dead Sea Scrolls. For Christianity, the greatest importance of the scrolls lies in the mention of a Messiah (derived from the Hebrew word "meshiach", meaning anointed one). who (of course) most experts believe to be Jesus Christ of Narareth. Also, via reasoning, it would follow that the Essenes were one of the first Christian groups and one that was composed of Jews.


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