Pastor’s Article 4/19/2022
2022 is the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is an anniversary worth knowing about and celebrating.
What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The DSS’s are a collection of nearly 1,000 ancient manuscripts (plus over 100,000 fragments) discovered in 11 caves near the Dead Sea in the Middle East. The first 3 manuscripts were discovered in a cave by a farmer in 1947. This led to a search of nearby caves over a period of several years, resulting in the discovery of hundreds of additional manuscripts and tens of thousands of fragments.
All the manuscripts are dated from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD. The manuscripts fall into 3 categories:
- Texts of the Old Testament (written in Hebrew)
- Other religious writings
- Non-religious writings
The manuscripts were written by the Essenes. The Essenes were a group of devoted Jews who left Jerusalem in the early 3rd century BC to live a monastic life in the Judean desert.
They formed this community because they were disgusted with how corrupt the practice of Judaism had become. They wanted a purer religion and they devoted their days to the study and copying of sacred Scripture, as well as to other theological and sectarian writings.
Why are the DSS’s Important?
The DSS’s are important to Christians because they prove the reliability of the Old Testament.
Prior to the discovery of the DSS’s, the oldest text of the Old Testament on record was the so-called Masoretic text which dates to 935 AD.
What we read today and call “our Bible” is a translation of the Masoretic text.
With the discovery of the DSS’s, dated over a thousand years earlier than the Masoretic text, scholars were anxious to see how the texts compared. If they were substantially different, that would call into question (to put it mildly) the reliability of our Bible.
And what did the scholars discover?
NO DIFFERENCE . . . except for some minor differences in grammar and spelling!
This is powerful and compelling evidence that the Bible we read today is an accurate translation of the original writings. In short, we can trust the Bible as the Word of God!