Order of Contents
Introductions & Background 10+
The Dead Sea scrolls have been one of the most important archaeological finds in the last century. They were found in the desert adjoining the Dead Sea in Israel in 1946/7, and are part of the remains of what has become known as the Qumran community. As the scrolls date from the time of Jesus and before, they give some interesting insight into the Jewish background and context of his times.
The helpfulness of the much-publicized scrolls to understanding the setting of the N.T., however, is very limited and tangential, because the Qumran community was essentially a fringe, monastic and ascetic Jewish, prophetic cult that remained deliberately secluded from the rest of Judaism, and their distinctives were shared very little, if at all, with the rest of the Jewish people.
The closest group that the Qumran community had some superficial resemblance to was the Jewish Essenes (described by the ancient Jewish historian Josephus), though the Qumran community was very distinct from them as well. John the Baptist’s character and mission emphatically was not that of the Essenes or the Dead Sea group, and he had certain practices that were forbidden by the Qumran community; any ascetic similarity between them was simply superficial.
While the Dead Sea Scrolls tend to be given a significant historical value by scholars in that they are some of the few extra-Biblical writings that can be confidently dated with accuracy to be contemporaneous with Jesus (and before), yet as to their actual content, as you may read, they are on par with the other apocryphal writings from that era. When one takes to heart that the hopes of the Qumran prophecies did not come true, but were miserably overthrown by history (and the sword of the Roman army), the Qumran group might be put on par with the more recent Waco Texas cult (1993) of David Koresh.
As many widely varying claims swirl about these scrolls, it behooves you to read them and get familiar with them yourself in order to separate out what the scrolls legitimately inform us of versus the far-stretched and contorted inferences (often posed as conclusions) of liberal scholars and the media.
Don’t simply trust what other people say; read all the scrolls for yourself! Pick up:
ed. Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Buy (reprinted numerous times)
Vermes (1924–2013) was a Jewish/secular scholar, one of the foremost authorities on the Dead Sea Scrolls. The lengthy, detailed and sufficient Introduction in this book will give you all you need to know about the the Qumran group and their scrolls, their history, characteristics and their teachings.
As you read the scrolls, you will quickly recognize and become evermore thankful that truly our religion and our Savior, revealed in the Biblical scriptures, is from Heaven and not man, and that the promises which we trust in will never fail.
Read the Dead Sea Scrolls
Some of the writings in HTML-text
The Gnostic Society Library
Photographs of the Scrolls
The Orion Center at the Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem
ed. Vermes, Geza – The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Buy
This is the standard translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Vermes (1924–2013) was a Jewish/secular scholar, one of the foremost authorities on the Dead Sea Scrolls. The lengthy, detailed and sufficient Introduction in this book will give you all you need to know about the the group and their scrolls, their history, characteristics and their teachings. The Introduction was later published as its own separate volume.
Introductions & Background to the Dead Sea Scrolls
ed. Tenney, Merrill – ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ in The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary (1963) Tenney is an Evangelical.
ed. Gentz, William H. – ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ in The Dictionary of Bible and Religion (1986), pp. 254-258 Abingdon is liberal
ed. Allen C. Myers – ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ in The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (1987), pp. 268-273
Answers in Genesis – ‘Dead Sea Scrolls—Timeless Treasures from Qumran’ by Dr. Jeremy D. Lyon
Unger, Merrill F. – The Dead Sea Scrolls and other amazing Archaeological Discoveries Buy 1957
Unger (1909–1980) was an evangelical Old Testament scholar at Dallas Theological Seminary.
“Part 1 deals with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Part 2 deals with other archaeological discoveries, including the Rosetta Stone, the Moabite Stone, Hezekiah’s tunnel inscription, etc.” – Cyril J. Barber
Harrison, R.K. – The Dead Sea Scrolls: an Introduction Buy (Harper, 1961)
Harrison (1920-1993) was a professor of Old Testament at the Univ. of Toronto and was generally conservative. Tremper Longman described him as “one of the most competent Old Testament evangelical scholars today.”
Eissfeldt, Otto – III. ‘Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical Writings among the Qumran Texts’ in Part 4, ‘The Canon’ in The Old Testament: an Introduction, including the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and also the works of similar type from Qumran; the History of the Formation of the Old Testament (Harper & Row, 1965/6), pp. 637-668 Liberal
This volume of Eisfeldt (1887-1973) has been a standard amongst liberals, giving a detailed literary-critical assessment of the history of the formation of each part of the Old Testament on the basis of the documentary hypothesis.
This work is not for the beginner, but for scholars. Its bibliographies at the beginning of each section make it particularly valuable.
ed. Vermes, Geza – The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Buy Reprinted numerous times
The lengthy, detailed and sufficient Introduction in this book will give you all you need to know about the the group and their scrolls, their history, characteristics and their teachings. The Introduction was later published as its own separate volume.
Vermes (1924–2013) was a Jewish/secular scholar, one of the foremost authorities on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
While the scrolls do give some interesting insight into the Jewish Inter-Testamental period, the helpfulness of the Scrolls to understanding the setting of the N.T. is very limited and is tangential, because the group that this literature derived from was essentially a fringe, monastic Jewish, prophetic, cult that remained deliberately secluded from the rest of Judaism and their distinctives were shared very little, if at all, with the rest of the Jewish people.
The closest group that they had some superficial resemblance to was the Jewish Essenes, though they were very distinct from them as well. John the Baptist’s character and mission emphatically was not that of the Essenes or the Dead Sea group, and he had certain practices that were forbidden by the Dead Sea group; any ascetic similarity between them was simply superficial.
Davies, Philip R., George J. Brooke & Phillip R. Callaway – The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls Buy (London: Thames and Hudson, 2002)
“An introduction aimed at a popular audience, this volume is lavishly illustrated with numerous sidebars. In addition to examining the scrolls in their ancient context, the book also gives attention to the various controversies surrounding the scrolls and their publication.” – Oxford Bibliographies
VanderKam, James & Peter Flint – The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity Buy (San Francisco: Harper, 2002)
“The most comprehensive introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls, about twice as long as VanderKam [The Dead Sea Scrolls Today,] 1994. The coverage is similar, including archaeological, historical, and interpretive issues, as well as controversies about the scrolls. The judgments on contested issues are judicious.” – Oxford Bibliographies
In VanderKam’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, he identified the Qumran community with the Essenes. While both were ascetic and isolationist Jewish groups, Josephus describes characteristics of the Essenes which are inconsistent with the Qumran community.
Bibliographies of Literature on the Dead Sea Scrolls
ed. Fitzmer, Joseph – The Dead Sea Scrolls: Major Publications and Tools for Study Buy rev. ed. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990)
“A very helpful guide to the primary sources (the published texts of the DSS) and to secondary materials. Topical arrangement, some entries have brief annotations. Includes indexes by modern author and by biblical passage.” – Kepple & Muether, Reference Works for Theological Research
ed. LaSor, William – Bibliography of the Dead Sea Scrolls 1948-1957 Buy (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary Library, 1958)
“Lists about 3,000 books, periodical articles, etc., arranged by a detailed subject classification… Fairly comprehensive to the period covered.” – Kepple & Muether
A Classified Bibliography of the Finds in the Desert of Judah 1958-1969 Buy (Leiden: Brill, 1971)
“Intended to be a continuation of LaSor’s bibliography [above]. Lists a large number of books and periodical articles in many languages…” – Kepple & Muether
Pinnick, Avital – The Orion Center Bibliography of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1995-2000 Buy (Brill: 2002) 232 pp.
The Orion Center is dedicated to the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and is at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Clements, Ruth A. – The Orion Center Bibliography of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 2000-2006 Buy (Brill, 2007)
Oxford Bibliographies – ‘Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls’
Orion Center, Hebrew University
This online bibliography of literature on the Dead Sea Scrolls has over 21,000 entries.