Article

Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls

Carol Newsom

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0102
Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls

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The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947–1948 has rightly been called the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century. The fragments of nine hundred manuscripts and the excavation of the nearby archaeological site have transformed the understanding of Judaism in the late Second Temple period and have shed new light on the development of early Judaism and Christianity, including the development of the Bible. The biblical texts recovered from Qumran are some thousand years older than the medieval Hebrew manuscripts that form the basis of modern translations. Of the nonbiblical texts, some are clearly composed by members of the sectarian religious movement that collected and preserved the scrolls, a movement that flourished from the middle of the 2d century bce at least to the time of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66–70 ce). Other texts are not sectarian but represent a variety of writings popular in Jewish religious literature of the time. The fragmentary condition of many of the finds, the character of the texts themselves, and the nature of the archaeological remains have made the scholarly task of understanding and interpreting their significance extremely difficult. Consequently, many issues remain undecided and often hotly debated. Nevertheless, remarkable progress has been made in just over sixty years in reconstructing, deciphering, and interpreting these extraordinary documents and placing them within historical context.

Article.  16906 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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