Dead Sea Scrolls – What are they?
The dead sea scrolls are a vast collection (900+) of Jewish writings including what the Christians call the old testament of the Bible.
The dead sea scrolls contain writings in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek . The scrolls were most likely written by a Jewish sect called the Essenes although this is yet to be conclusively proven.
The scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 inside 11 Qumran caves which are located about 23 miles east of Jerusalem.
Using radio carbon dating scientists concluded that the dead sea scrolls were written from between fourth century BCE to first century CE.
The scrolls can be divided into two categories: 240 biblical scrolls and 701 non biblical scrolls.
In this article we will focus on the Biblical scrolls.
5 facts about the Dead Sea scrolls
1. The dead sea scrolls can be viewed online.
The Israel Museum in partnership with Google has created the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from the Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. The website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history.
2. Almost all of the Hebrew Bible is represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Scrolls of every book in the old testament are found except the book of Ester.
This is a huge find because until this discovery the earliest dated manuscripts of the old testament were from the 10th century CE.
3. The scrolls were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, the three languages of Scripture.
The dead sea scrolls date to just before the time of Jesus and affirm that the people of that time in Israel were accustomed to speak these 3 languages independently verifying that the Biblical choice of these languages was inline with the culture of that time.
4. The dead sea scrolls confirm the masoretic text of the Old Testament of the Bible.
The masoretic text from which the current old testament of the Bible is sourced dates back to 10th century CE and until this discovery skeptics claimed that the masoretic text was not reliable since it was from a much later time than when it was originally written.
The dead sea scrolls which date back almost 1000 years prior to the masoretic text are now the earliest found manuscripts of the old testament and interestingly they are almost identical to the masoretic text thus showing that what we have today has stood the test of time. In other words the text of the Bible has not changed even in 2200 years!
The Bible testifies to this fact when it says in Isaiah 40:8,
5. The Isaiah scroll is the only complete ancient copy of any biblical book in existence.
Now we come to the most interesting point in this article.
The old testament contains the book of Isaiah which was written by the prophet Isaiah in the 8th Century BCE and it is considered as one of the most important books of the old testament and is sometimes also considered like the 5th gospel in Christian circles.
And no wonder because the book of Isaiah contains 20+ detailed prophecies which fortell the birth, life and death of the Messaiah.
This was one of the books from which Jesus quoted most from. The 4 gospels extensively quote from the book of Isaiah and show how the prophecies about the Messaiah were fulfilled by Jesus.
Until the discovery of the dead sea scrolls skeptics claimed that the book of Isaiah must have been written after Jesus to some how
make the Bible look divinely inspired. The Isaiah scroll is the oldest of the dead sea scrolls found.It is the most scrutinized of all the scrolls discovered because it contains all 66 chapters of the Book of Isaiah from the Bible and hence it can be factually verified for manuscript reliability and consistency.
It has been dated by scientists to around 200 BCE i.e. it is atleast 200 years before Christ.
You can actually verify the authenticity of the book of Isaiah yourself by visiting the link of the dead sea scrolls project.
Compare each passage to the King James Bible which is sourced from the masoretic text and you will see that they match perfectly barring a few minor words which do not change the meaning of any passage. You can also see proof that the Bible has to be divinely inspired because it predicts the coming of Jesus including his death which has been accepted by scientists as a historical fact.