Where were the Dead Sea Scrolls found? When were they found? Who found them? How do they make the Bible as we know it more authentic? These are just a few of the questions that I will answer in this paper about the scrolls.
First, let’s take a journey. We will go to place that is 13 miles east of Jerusalem and 1300 feet below sea level, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, near the ancient ruins of Qumran. All of the scrolls were found in this location, in eleven different caves. Each cave was numbered according to when a scroll or pieces of a scroll was found. Caves one and eleven yielded the major intact texts, while mostly fragments were found in the other caves. Cave three produced the only copper scroll, which contained a list of 64 hiding places to where other treasures and scrolls where hidden. All in all, the scrolls so far discovered represent a library of over 900 documents representing as many as 350 separate works in multiple copies, many of which are represented only by fragments (Basic Facts Regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls, Taber).
Now, when were the scrolls found? It took nine years for all the scrolls to be found that we have today, between 1947 and 1956 A.D. In the winter or spring of 1947 was when the first cave was found, and it yielded seven scrolls. Five years later, in February 1952, cave two was found, and it produced 300 fragments and 33 different manuscripts. March 14, 1952, cave three is discovered and has 14 manuscripts including the copper scroll. Cave four, discovered August 1952, produced 90 percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls and fragments. Shortly after cave four’s discovery caves five and six where discovered, in 1952. About 25 manuscripts came from cave five, while approximately 31 manuscripts were found in cave six. Caves 7-10 produced the least amount of scrolls and fragments. In 1956 cave eleven was discovered and produced the longest scroll, which is now 26.7 feet long and is believed to have been over 28 feet long originally.
Next, who found the Dead Sea Scrolls? The first caves and scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin named Muhammed edh-Dhib and his cousin sometime during the winter of 1946-47. Although, it was edh-Dhib’s cousin who first discovered the caves, edh-Dhib was the first to enter a cave when he fell into it, at which time he recovered a handful of scrolls. The Bedouin’s have been given credit for discovery of five of the eleven caves, while archeologist’s found the remaining six.
Last, how does the discovery impact the Bible? How does it affect the authenticity of the Bible? These two questions will be addressed as one, and will be the most lengthy of all the questions answered in this article. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been a significant find Christians and Jews in relation to the old testament of the Bible. The scrolls found included parts to every book of the Old Testament except Esther, and when the scrolls were compared to the accuracy of the Bible we have today, the accuracy between the two was astonishing. [i] The comparison importance of these scrolls are of high importance, since the only comparison we had prior to the scrolls discovery was the Masoretic Text (MT), dated about 980 A.D. So, one can see how important these scrolls are, especially once compared to the MT and found with incredible accuracy. [ii] The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls not only helped to prove the accuracy of the Old Testament, but it also closed the gap between the oldest documents that we have and the original manuscripts written to 500 years. Another important fact that I discovered in an article written by Gary K. Brantley, was the comparison of the Book of Daniel. Just like the rest of the Old Testament, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest documentation of the Book of Daniel was from the Masoretic Text, and once compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls the accuracy was just as astonishing and provided even more proof for the integrity of the Book of Daniel. As you can see the proof is here and one can argue all they want about the Bible not being accurate, but the question always be asked to the non-believer, where else in history do you have this much proof of a book that has been copied over and over again for over 2000 years with this much accuracy?
In conclusion, the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls is massive, and filled with many stories of their discovery. Many people had doubted the accuracy of the Word of God prior to the scrolls discovery and God allowed us to find these scrolls and proved the integrity of his Word for the Old Testament. Yet, many still detest the accuracy and integrity of the Bible today. Although, I have answered a few questions in this article, I have raised one puzzling question for myself that I would like for you to answer. With all the proof of accuracy and integrity provide for the Word of God what more does a person need to realize that God is real and loves each and every one of us?
[i] The Dead Sea Scrolls are of particular value in this regard for at least two reasons: (1) every book of the traditional Hebrew canon, except Esther, is represented (to some degree) among the materials at Qumran; and (2) they have provided textual critics with ancient manuscripts against which they can compare the accepted text for accuracy of content (article: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity, Brantley).
[ii] When scholars compared the MT of Isaiah to the Isaiah scroll of Qumran, the correspondence was astounding. The texts from Qumran proved to be word-for-word identical to our Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted primarily of obvious slips of the pen and spelling alterations (article: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity, Brantley).
Brantlley, Gary K. “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity.” 1995. http://www.apologeticspress.org. .
Tabor, Dr. James D. “Basic Facts Regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls.” The Jewish Roman World of Jesus (1998).