Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls

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Dead Sea Scrolls refers to a group of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and the extra-biblical documents that were found on the northwestern part of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956 (Vanderkam and Flint, 2005). Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls materials were fragmented in nature. 

Those involved in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scroll include the Bedouin, Israelis, and scholars. Bedouin was a fifteen year old shepherd-boy known as Mohammed Al-Dhib. According to Vanderkam and Flint (2005), he was looking for lost sheep and suddenly discovered several scroll fragments and pottery jar in a cave. Some of the components that were eventually discovered in this first cave were seven scrolls that included Community Rule (or Manual of Discipline), the Genesis Apocrypha, the War Scroll, the Habakkuk  pesher, the Isaiah Scroll, and the Thanksgiving Hymns (Vanderkam and Flint, 2005).

Once the scrolls had been discovered, they were passed to various scholars for analysis. The first scholar to analyze the scrolls is an archaeologist William Albright of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. From Albright’s analysis, the scrolls were concluded to be Jewish manuscripts that were used during the ancient days; a period that was known as Maccabean period (Vanderkam and Flint, 2005). Latter on, the seven scrolls were bought by Eleazar Sukenik, a scholar at the Hebrew University, who concluded that the scrolls were actually a product of the ancient Essenes. The other scholars who participated in the discovery and identification of the Dead Sea scroll were the Lankester Harding and Father Ronald de Vaus. Vanderkam and Flint (2005) record that the two conducted an excavation of the initial cave where the scrolls were found after being granted permission by the Jordan Antiquities Authority; the results of their excavation led to the conclusion that the scrolls were a product of Essences. The same scholars were charged with the responsibility evaluating the content of other eleven caves in 1956. Their responsibility at this time involved resembling and translation of the scrolls and the fragments that were found in the eleven caves.

On the other hand, the work of the Jordanian during the discovery of the scrolls involved taking care of the scrolls. That is, from the last discovery of the eleven caves, the Jordanians were assigned the responsibility of taking control of the museum where the scroll fragments were kept. However, after the 1967, the large content of the scrolls had not been translated.                        

Generally, the scrolls that were discovered between 1947 and 1956 became an important component of Jewish documents. The importance of these scrolls is not only based on the fact that they were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, but because they are actually the scripts of the Hebrew Bible.

The main controversy that has surrounded the Dead Sea Scrolls is the argument that the said scrolls were not a component of the Hebrew Bible, but a product of some Jews sect. Owing to the belief on the scrolls and the importance attached on it, various theories have been utilized to challenge and argue against the sect ideology on the scrolls. For instance, the Christian origin theory asserts that the Dead Sea Scrolls cannot be a product of a sect because of the gospel of Mark 6:52-53 that is profound in the scroll. This assertion thus justifies the fact that the scrolls are true records of the Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, various scholars have cited Jerusalem origin theory by citing that the scrolls must have been left behind by the Jews who were escaping from the Romans.

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