Dead Sea Scrolls

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Psalms Scroll with transcription.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1946 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

The texts are of great religious and historical significance, as they include the oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-biblical documents and preserve evidence of great diversity in late Second Temple Judaism. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaicand Greek, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus.[1] These manuscripts generally date between 150 BCE and 70 CE.[2] The scrolls are traditionally identified with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, though some recent interpretations have challenged this association and argue that the scrolls were penned by priests in Jerusalem, Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups.[3][4]

The Dead Sea Scrolls are traditionally divided into three groups: "Biblical" manuscripts (copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 40% of the identified scrolls; "Apocryphal" or "Pseudepigraphical" manuscripts (known documents from the Second Temple Period like Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach, non-canonical psalms, etc., that were not ultimately canonized in the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls; and "Sectarian" manuscripts (previously unknown documents that speak to the rules and beliefs of a particular group or groups within greater Judaism) like the Community Rule, War Scroll, Pesher on Habakkuk (Hebrew pesher פשר = "Commentary"), and the Rule of the Blessing, which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls.[5]


The caves in which the scrolls were found

Remains of the west wing of the main building at Qumran.

The settlement of Qumran is one kilometer inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The scrolls were found in eleven caves nearby, between 125 meters (e.g., Cave 4) and one kilometer (e.g., Cave 1) away. None were found within the settlement, unless it originally encompassed the caves. In the winter of 1946–47, Palestinian Muhammed edh-Dhib and his cousin discovered the caves, and soon afterwards the scrolls.

John C. Trever reconstructed the story of the scrolls from several interviews with the Bedouin. edh-Dhib’s cousin noticed the caves, but edh-Dhib himself was the first to actually fall into one. He retrieved a handful of scrolls, which Trever identifies as the Isaiah Scroll, Habakkuk Commentary, and the Community Rule (originally known as "Manual of Discipline"), and took them back to the camp to show to his family. None of the scrolls were destroyed in this process, despite popular rumor.[6] The Bedouin kept the scrolls hanging on a tent pole while they figured out what to do with them, periodically taking them out to show people. At some point during this time, the Community Rule was split in two.

The Bedouin first took the scrolls to a dealer named Ibrahim ‘Ijha in Bethlehem. ‘Ijha returned them, saying they were worthless, after being warned that they may have been stolen from a synagogue. Undaunted, the Bedouin went to a nearby market, where a Syrian Christian offered to buy them. A sheikh joined their conversation and suggested they take the scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, "Kando", a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer. The Bedouin and the dealers returned to the site, leaving one scroll with Kando and selling three others to a dealer for £7 GBP ($29 in 2003 US dollars).[6]

Arrangements with the Bedouin left the scrolls in the hands of a third party until a profitable sale of them could be negotiated. That third party, George Isha’ya, was a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who soon contacted St. Mark’s Monastery in the hope of getting an appraisal of the nature of the texts. News of the find then reached Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, better known as Mar Samuel.

After examining the scrolls and suspecting their antiquity, Mar Samuel expressed an interest in purchasing them. Four scrolls found their way into his hands: the now famous Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa), the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher (a commentary on the book ofHabakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon. More scrolls soon surfaced in the antiquities market, and Professor Eleazer Sukenik and Professor Benjamin Mazar, Israeli archaeologists at Hebrew University, soon found themselves in possession of three, The War Scroll,Thanksgiving Hymns, and another, more fragmented, Isaiah scroll.

By the end of 1947, Sukenik and Mazar received word of the scrolls in Mar Samuel’s possession and attempted to purchase them. No deal was reached, and instead the scrolls caught the attention of Dr. John C. Trever, of the American Schools of Oriental Research(ASOR), who compared the script in the scrolls to that of The Nash Papyrus, the oldest biblical manuscript then known, and found similarities between them.

Dr. Trever, a keen amateur photographer, met with Mar Samuel on February 21, 1948, when he photographed the scrolls. The quality of his photographs often exceeded the visibility of the scrolls themselves over the years, as the ink of the texts quickly deteriorated after they were removed from their linen wrappings.

Ad for "Dead Sea Scrolls" in the Wall Street Journal

The scrolls were analyzed using a cyclotron at the University of California, Davis where it was found that the black ink used was iron-gall ink.[7] The red ink on the scrolls was cinnabar (HgS, mercury sulfide).[7]

In March, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War prompted the removal of the scrolls for safekeeping, from Israel to Beirut, Lebanon.

Early in September, 1948, Mar brought Professor Ovid R. Sellers, the new Director of ASOR, some additional scroll fragments that he had acquired. By the end of 1948, nearly two years after their discovery, scholars had yet to locate the cave where the fragments had been found. With unrest in the country at that time, no large-scale search could be undertaken. Sellers attempted to get the Syrians to help him locate the cave, but they demanded more money than he could offer. Finally, Cave 1 was discovered, on January 28, 1949, by a United Nations observer.

The Dead Sea Scrolls went up for sale eventually, in an advertisement in the June 1, 1954 Wall Street Journal.

On July 1, the scrolls, after delicate negotiations and accompanied by three people including the Metropolitan, arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. They were purchased by Prof. Mazar and the son of Prof. Sukenik, Yigael Yadin, for US$250,000 and brought back to East Jerusalem, where they were on display at the Palestine Archaeological Museum then, after the Six-Day War, to West Jerusalem at the Shrine of the Book.

Survey of the Caves

The caves surrounding Qumran are numbered based upon the order of their discovery and their production of scrolls and scroll fragments. Thus, caves 7-9 and 4 are very close to the settlement at Qumran, while caves 1, 3, and 11 are farther away. Likewise, there are hundreds of other caves surrounding Qumran discovered both before and after the 11 scroll caves that did not produce scrolls and are therefore not numbered as scroll caves. Below is a summary of each of the Qumran Caves:

Cave 1

Cave 1 was discovered in the winter or spring of 1947. It was first excavated by Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux from Feb 15 to Mar 5, 1949.[8] In addition to the original seven scrolls, Cave 1 produced jars and bowls, whose chemical composition and shape matched vessels discovered at the settlement at Qumran, pieces of cloth, and additional fragments that matched portions of the original scrolls, thereby confirming that the original scrolls came from Cave 1.

The original seven scrolls from Cave 1 are:[9]

Cave 2

Cave two was discovered in February, 1952.[10] It yielded 300 fragments from 33 manuscripts, including Jubilees and the Book of Sirach in the original Hebrew.

Cave 3

Cave three was discovered on March 14, 1952.[10] The cave yielded 14 manuscripts including Jubilees and the curious Copper Scroll, which lists 67 hiding places, mostly underground, throughout the ancient Roman province of Judea (now Israel). According to the scroll, the secret caches held astonishing amounts of gold, silver, copper, aromatics, and manuscripts.

Cave 4

Cave four was discovered in August, 1952, and was excavated from September 22 to 29, 1952 by Gerald Lankester Harding, Roland de Vaux, and Józef Milik.[11] Cave four is actually two, hand-cut caves (4a and 4b), but since the fragments were mixed, they are labeled as 4Q. Cave 4 is the most famous ofQumran caves both because of its visibility from the Qumran plateau and its productivity. It is visible from the plateau to the south of the Qumran settlement. It is by far the most productive of all Qumran caves, producing ninety percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls and scroll fragments (approx. 15,000 fragments from 500 different texts), including 9-10 copies of Jubilees, along with 21 tefillin and 7 mezuzot.

Caves 5 and 6

Caves 5 and 6 were discovered in 1952, shortly after Cave 4. Cave 5 produced approximately 25 manuscripts, while Cave 6 contained fragments of about 31 manuscripts.[11]

Caves 7–9

Caves 7-9 are unique in that they are the only caves that are accessible only by passing through the settlement at Qumran. Carved into the southern end of the Qumran plateau, archaeologists excavated caves 7-9 in 1957, but did not find many fragments perhaps due to high levels of erosion that left only the shallow bottoms of the caves.

Cave 7 yielded fewer than 20 fragments of Greek documents, including 7Q2 (the "Letter of Jeremiah" = Baruch 6), 7Q5 (which became the subject of much speculation in later decades), and a Greek copy of a scroll of Enoch.[12][13][14] Cave 7 also produced several inscribed potsherds and jars.[15]

Cave 8 produced five fragments: Genesis (8QGen), Psalms (8QPs), a tefillin fragment (8QPhyl), a mezuzah (8QMez), and a hymn (8QHymn).[16] Cave 8 also produced several tefillin cases, a box of leather objects, lamps, jars, and the sole of a leather shoe.[15]

Cave 9 produced only small, unidentifiable fragments.

Caves 8 and 9 also yielded several date pits[15] similar to those discovered by Magen and Peleg to the west of Locus 75 during their "Operation Scroll" excavations.[17][18]

Cave 10

Cave 10 produced only a single ostracon with some writing on it.

Cave 11

Cave 11 was discovered in 1956 and yielded 21 texts, some of which were quite lengthy. The Temple Scroll, so called because more than half of it pertains to the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem, was found in Cave 11, and is by far the longest scroll. It is now 26.7 feet (8.15m) long. Its original length may have been over 28 feet (8.75m). The Temple Scroll was regarded by Yigael Yadin as "The Torah According to the Essenes." On the other hand, Hartmut Stegemann, a contemporary and friend of Yadin, believed the scroll was not to be regarded as such, but was a document without exceptional significance. Stegemann notes that it is not mentioned or cited in any known Essene writing.[19]

Also in Cave 11, an escatological fragment about the biblical figure Melchizedek (11Q13) was found. Cave 11 also produced a copy of Jubilees.

According to former chief editor of the DSS editorial team, John Strugnell, there are at least four privately owned scrolls from Cave 11, that have not yet been made available for scholars. Among them is a complete Aramaic manuscript of the Book of Enoch.[20]

Survey of Scrolls

While many of the Dead Sea Scrolls are small fragments of Biblical, apocryphal, or sectarian manuscripts, some of the scrolls have come to be well known and influential to Second Temple Judaism. The following is a list of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the caves near Qumran:[9]

Scrolls from Cave 1
Scrolls from Cave 2
Scrolls from Cave 3
  • 3QEzek ("Ezekiel" 16:31-33) = 3Q1
  • 3QPs ("Psalms" 2:6-7) = 3Q2
  • 3QLam ("Lamentations") = 3Q3
  • 3QpIsa ("Pesher on Isaiah") = 3Q4
  • 3QJub ("Jubilees") = 3Q5
  • 3QHymn (an unidentified hymn) = 3Q6
  • 3QTJudah? ("Testament of Judah"?) = 3Q7 cf. 4Q484, 4Q538
  • 3Q8 (fragment of an unidentified text)
  • 3Q9 (possible unidentified sectarian text)
  • 3Q10-11 (unclassified fragments)
  • 3Q12-13 (unclassified Aramaic fragments)
  • 3Q14 (unclassified fragments)
  • 3QCopper Scroll ("The Copper Scroll") = 3Q15
Scrolls from Cave 4
Scrolls from Cave 5
  • 5QDeut ("Deuteronomy") = 5Q1
  • 5QKgs ("1 Kings") = 5Q2
  • 5QIsa ("Isaiah") = 5Q3
  • 5QAmos ("Amos") = 5Q4
  • 5QPs ("Psalms") = 5Q5
  • 5QLama ("Lamentations") = 5Q6
  • 5QLamb ("Lamentations") = 5Q7
  • 5QPhyl (3 fragments from a "Phylactery") = 5Q8
  • 5QapJosh ("Apocryphon of Joshua") = 5Q9
  • 5Q10 Apocryphon of Malachi
  • 5Q11 Rule of the Community
  • 5Q12 Damascus Document
  • 5Q13 Rule
  • 5Q14 Curses
  • 5Q15 New Jerusalem
  • 5Q16-25 unclassified
  • 5QX1 Leather fragment
Scrolls from Cave 6
  • 6QpaleoGen (section of "Genesis" 6:13-21 written in palaeo-Hebrew script) = 6Q1
  • 6QpaleoLev (section of "Leviticus" 8:12-13 written in palaeo-Hebrew script) = 6Q2
  • 6Q3 Deuteronomy
  • 6Q4 Kings
  • 6QCant ("Canticles" or "Song of Songs") = 6Q6
  • 6Q7 Daniel
  • 6QpapEnGiants ("Book of Giants" from "Enoch") = 6Q8
  • 6Qpap apSam-Kgs ("Apocryphon on Samuel-Kings") = 6Q9
  • 6QpapProph (an unidentified prophetic fragment) = 6Q10
  • 6Q11 ("Allegory of the Vine")
  • 6QapocProph (an apocryphal prophecy) = 6Q12
  • 6QPriestProph ("Priestly Prophecy") = 6Q13
  • 6QD ("Damascus Document") = 6Q15
  • 6QpapBened ("Benediction") = 6Q16
  • 6Q17 Calendrical Document
  • 6Q18 Hymn
  • 6Q19 Genesis
  • 6Q20 Deuteronomy
  • 6Q21 Prophetic text?
  • 6Q22-6QX2 Unclassified
Scrolls from Cave 7
  • 7QLXXExod (a section of "Exodus" from the Septuagint) = 7Q1
  • 7QLXXEpJer ("Letter of Jeremiah" = Baruch 6) = 7Q2
  • 7Q3 Biblical Text?
  • 7QpapEn gr ("Enoch") = 7Q4, 8, 11-14
  • 7Q5 Biblical Text
  • 7Q6, 7, 9, 10 unclassified
  • 7Q15-18 unclassified
  • 7Q19 imprint
Scrolls from Cave 8
  • 8QGen ("Genesis") = 8Q1
  • 8QPs ("Psalms") = 8Q2
  • 8QPhyl (fragments from a "Phylactery") = 8Q3
  • 8QMez (portion of "Deuteronomy" 10:12-11:21 from a Mezuzah) = 8Q4
  • 8QHymn (a previously unidentified hymn) = 8Q5
  • 8QX1 Tabs
  • 8QX2-3 Thongs
Scrolls from Cave 9
  • 9Qpap (unidentified fragment)
Scrolls from Cave 10
  • 10Q1 ostracon
Scrolls from Cave 11

Significance to the Canon of the Bible

The significance of the scrolls relates in a large part to the field of textual criticism and how accurately the Bible has been transcribed over time. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible were Masoretic texts dating to 10th century CE such as the Aleppo Codex. The biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls push that date back a millennium to the 2nd century BCE. Before this discovery, the earliest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament were in Greek in manuscripts such as Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and Codex Sinaiticus.

According to The Oxford Companion to Archaeology:

The biblical manuscripts from Qumran, which include at least fragments from every book of the Old Testament, except perhaps for the Book of Esther, provide a far older cross section of scriptural tradition than that available to scholars before. While some of the Qumran biblical manuscripts are nearly identical to the Masoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text of the Old Testament, some manuscripts of the books of Exodus and Samuel found in Cave Four exhibit dramatic differences in both language and content. In their astonishing range of textual variants, the Qumran biblical discoveries have prompted scholars to reconsider the once-accepted theories of the development of the modern biblical text from only three manuscript families: of the Masoretic text, of the Hebrew original of the Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100.[21]

About 35% of the DSS biblical manuscripts belong to the Masoretic tradition (MT), 5% to the Septuagint family, and 5% to the Samaritan, with the remainder unaligned. The non-aligned fall into two categories, those inconsistent in agreeing with other known types, and those that diverge significantly from all other known readings. The DSS thus form a significant witness to the mutability of biblical texts at this period.[22] The sectarian texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, most of which were previously unknown, offer new light on one form of Judaism practiced during the Second Temple period.

Frequency of books found

Books Ranked According to Number of Manuscripts found (top 16)[23]



1 Enoch







Minor Prophets





1 & 2 Samuel

Origin of the Scrolls

There has been much debate about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The dominant theory remains that the scrolls were the product of a sect of Jews living at nearby Qumran called the Essenes, but this theory has come to be challenged by several modern scholars. The various theories concerning the origin of the scrolls are as follows:

Qumran-Essene Theory

The prevalent view among scholars, almost universally held until the 1990s, is the "Qumran-Essene" hypothesis originally posited by Roland Guérin de Vaux[24] and Józef Tadeusz Milik,[25] though independently both Eliezer Sukenik and Butrus Sowmy of St Mark’s Monastery connected scrolls with the Essenes well before any excavations at Qumran.[26] The Qumran-Essene theory holds that the scrolls were written by the Essenes, or perhaps by another Jewish sectarian group, residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed the scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt sometime between 66 and 68 AD. The site of Qumran was destroyed and the scrolls were never recovered by those that placed them there. A number of arguments are used to support this theory.

  • There are striking similarities between the description of an initiation ceremony of new members in the Community Rule and descriptions of the Essene initiation ceremony mentioned in the works of Flavius Josephus‘ (a Jewish-Roman historian of the time) account of the Second Temple Period.
  • Josephus mentions the Essenes as sharing property among the members of the community, as does the Community Rule.
  • During the excavation of Khirbet Qumran, two inkwells and plastered elements thought to be tables were found, offering evidence that some form of writing was done there. More inkwells were discovered in nearby loci. De Vaux called this area the "scriptorium" based upon this discovery.
  • Several Jewish ritual baths (Hebrew: miqvah = מקוה) were discovered at Qumran, which offers evidence of an observant Jewish presence at the site.
  • Pliny the Elder (a geographer writing after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD) describes a group of Essenes living in a desert community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea near the ruined town of ‘Ein Gedi.

The Qumran-Essene theory has been the dominant theory since its initial proposal by Roland de Vaux and J.T. Milik. Recently, however, several other scholars have proposed alternative origins of the scrolls.

Qumran-Sectarian Theory

Qumran-Sectarian theories are variations on the Qumran-Essene theory. The main point of departure from the Qumran-Essene theory is hesitation to link the Dead sea Scrolls specifically with the Essenes. Most proponents of the Qumran-Sectarian theory understand a group of Jews living in or near Qumran to be responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls, but do not necessarily conclude that the sectarians are Essenes.

Qumran-Sadducean Theory

A specific variation on the Qumran-Sectarian theory that has gained much recent popularity, is the work of Lawrence H. Schiffman who proposes that the community was led by a group of Zadokite priests (Sadducees).[27] The most important document in support of this view is the "Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-Torah" (4QMMT), which cites purity laws (such as the transfer of impurities) identical to those attributed in rabbinic writings to the Sadducees. 4QMMT also reproduces a festival calendar that follows Sadducee principles for the dating of certain festival days.

Christian Origin Theory

While there are certainly some common characteristics shared between different Jewish sectarian groups, most scholars deny that there is any connection between the Christians and the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Still, Spanish Jesuit Josep O’Callaghan-Martínez has argued that one fragment (7Q5) preserves a portion of text from the New Testament Gospel of Mark 6:52-53.[28] In recent years, Robert Eisenman has advanced the theory that some scrolls actually describe the early Christian community. Eisenman also attempted to relate the career of James the Just and the Apostle Paul / Saul of Tarsus to some of these documents.[29]

Jerusalem Origin Theory

Some scholars have argued that the scrolls were the product of Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Karl Heinrich Rengstorf first proposed that the Dead Sea Scrolls originated at the library of the JewishTemple in Jerusalem.[30] Later, Norman Golb suggested that the scrolls were the product of multiple libraries in Jerusalem, and not necessarily the Jerusalem Temple library.[4][31] Proponents of the Jerusalem Origin theory point to the diversity of thought and handwriting among the scrolls as evidence against a Qumran origin of the scrolls. Several archaeologists have also accepted an origin of the scrolls other than Qumran, including Yizhar Hirschfeld[32] and most recently Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg,[33] who all understand the remains of Qumran to be those of a Hasmonean fort that was reused during later periods.


Some of the documents were published early. All the writings in Cave 1 appeared in print between 1950 and 1956, those from eight other caves were released in 1963, and 1965 saw the publication of the Psalms Scroll from Cave 11. Their translations into English soon followed.

Although heralded as one of the great events in modern archaeology, the discovery of the scrolls is not without controversy. All the manuscripts were initially placed under the oversight of a committee of scholars appointed by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. This responsibility was assumed by the Israel Antiquities Authority after 1967.[34]

Prior to 1968, most of the known scrolls and fragments were housed in the Rockefeller Museum (formerly known as the Palestine Archaeological Museum) in Jerusalem. After the Six Day War, these scrolls and fragments were moved to the Shrine of the Book, at the Israel Museum.

Publication of the scrolls has taken many decades, and the delay has been a source of academic controversy. As of 2007 two volumes remain to be completed, with the whole series, Discoveries in the Judean Desert, running to thirty-nine volumes in total. Many of the scrolls are now housed in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, while others are housed in the University of Chicago‘s Oriental Institute, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University (all of which are located in the U.S.A.), and in the hands of private collectors.

Fragments of the scrolls on display at the Archaeological Museum, Amman

Most of the longer, more complete scrolls were published soon after their discovery. The majority of the scrolls, however, consists of tiny, brittle fragments, which were published at a pace considered by many to be excessively slow. Even more unsettling for some was the fact that access to the unpublished documents was severely limited to the editorial committee. In 1991, researchers at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, announced the creation of a computer program that used previously published scrolls to reconstruct the unpublished texts. Officials at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, lead by Head Librarian William Andrew Moffett announced that they would allow researchers unrestricted access to the library’s complete set of photographs of the scrolls. With their monopoly broken, the officials of the Israel Antiquities Authority agreed to lift their long-standing restrictions on the use of the scrolls.[34]

Ben Zion Wacholder’s publication in the fall of 1991 of reconstructed 17 documents from a concordance that had been made in 1988 and had come into the hands of scholars outside of the International Team; in the same month, there occurred the discovery and publication of a complete set of facsimiles of the Cave 4 materials at the Huntington Library, which were not covered by the "secrecy rule".

After further delays, public interest attorney William John Cox undertook representation of an "undisclosed client," who had provided a complete set of the unpublished photographs, and contracted for their publication. Professors Robert Eisenman andJames Robinson indexed the photographs and wrote an introduction to A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which was published by the Biblical Archaeology Society in 1991.[35] As a result, the "secrecy rule" was lifted.

Following the publication of the Facsimile Edition, Professor Elisha Qimron sued Hershel Shanks, Eisenman, Robinson and the Biblical Archaeology Society for copyright infringement of one of the scrolls, which he deciphered (MMT). The District Court of Jerusalem found in favor of Qimron in September 1993.[36] The Court issued a restraining order, which prohibited the publication of the deciphered text, and ordered defendants to pay Qimron NIS 100,000 for infringing his copyright and the right of attribution. Defendants appealed the Supreme Court of Israel, which approved the District Court’s decision, in August 2000. The Supreme Court further ordered that the defendants hand over to Qimron all the infringing copies.[37] The decision met Israeli and international criticism from copyright law scholars. [38]

Publication accelerated with the appointment of the respected Dutch-Israeli textual scholar Emanuel Tov as editor-in-chief in 1990. Publication of the Cave 4 documents soon commenced, with five volumes in print by 1995. As of March 2009 volume XXXII remains to be completed, with the whole series, Discoveries in the Judean Desert, running to thirty nine volumes in total.

In December 2007, the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation commissioned London publisher Facsimile Editions to publish exact facsimiles [39] of three scrolls,[40] The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa), The Order of the Community (1QS), and The Pesher to Habakkuk (1QpHab). Of the first three facsimile sets, one was exhibited at the Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in Seoul, South Korea, and a second set was purchased by the British Library in London. A further 25 sets including facsimiles of fragments 4Q175 (Testimonia), 4Q162 (Pesher Isaiahb) and 4Q109 (Qohelet) were announced in May 2009.

Digital copies

High-resolution images of all the Dead Sea scrolls are now available online, and can easily be found with a Web search. They can also be purchased in inexpensive multi-volumes – on disc media or in book form – or viewed in certain college and university libraries.

According to Computer Weekly (16th Nov 2007), a team from King’s College London is to advise the Israel Antiquities Authority, who are planning to digitize the scrolls. On 27th Aug 2008 an Israeli internet news agency YNET announced that the project is under way.[41] The scrolls are planned to be made available to the public via Internet. The project is to include infra-red scanning of the scrolls which is said to expose additional details not revealed under visible light.

The text of nearly all of the non-biblical scrolls has been recorded and tagged for morphology by Dr. Martin Abegg, Jr., the Ben Zion Wacholder Professor of Dead Sea Scroll Studies at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, Canada. It is available on handheld devices through Olive Tree Bible Software – BibleReader, on Macs through Accordance, and on Windows through Logos Bible Software and BibleWorks.

See also


  1. ^ Bruce, F. F.. "The Last Thirty Years". Story of the Bible. ed. Frederic G. Kenyon. Retrieved June 19, 2007.
  2. ^ Ilani, Ofri, "Scholar: The Essenes, Dead Sea Scroll ‘authors,’ never existed", Ha’aretz, March 13, 2009.
  3. ^ Abegg, Jr., Martin, Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English, San Francisco: Harper, 2002.
  4. ^ a b John C. Trever. The Dead Sea Scrolls. Gorgias Press LLC, 2003.
  5. ^ a b "Iron-gall ink was the most important ink in Western history". Retrieved 2008-12-29.
  6. ^ VanderKam, James C., The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. p. 9.
  7. ^ a b Vermes, Geza, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, London: Penguin, 1998. ISBN 0-14-024501-4.
  8. ^ a b VanderKam, James C., The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. p. 10.
  9. ^ a b VanderKam, James C., The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. pp. 10-11.
  10. ^ Baillet, Maurice ed. Les ‘Petites Grottes’ de Qumrân (ed., vol. 3 of Discoveries in the Judean Desert; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), 144–45, pl. XXX.
  11. ^ Muro, Ernest A., “The Greek Fragments of Enoch from Qumran Cave 7 (7Q4, 7Q8, &7Q12 = 7QEn gr = Enoch 103:3–4, 7–8),” Revue de Qumran 18 no. 70 (1997).
  12. ^ Puech, Émile, “Sept fragments grecs de la Lettre d’Hénoch (1 Hén 100, 103, 105) dans la grotte 7 de Qumrân (= 7QHén gr),” Revue de Qumran 18 no. 70 (1997).
  13. ^ a b c Humbert and Chambon, Excavations of Khirbet Qumran and Ain Feshkha, 67.
  14. ^ Baillet ed. Les ‘Petites Grottes’ de Qumrân (ed.), 147–62, pl. XXXIXXXV.
  15. ^ Wexler, Lior ed. Surveys and Excavations of Caves in the Northern Judean Desert (CNJD) – 1993 (‘Atiqot 41; 2 vols.; Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 2002).
  16. ^ Magen, Yizhak and Yuval Peleg, The Qumran Excavations 1993–2004: Preliminary Report (Judea & Samaria Publications 6; Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 2007), 7.
  17. ^ Stegemann, Hartmut. "The Qumran Essenes: Local Members of the Main Jewish Union in Late Second Temple Times." Pages 83-166 in The Madrid Qumran Congress: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid, 18-21 March 1991, Edited by J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Montaner. Vol. 11 of Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah. Leiden: Brill, 1992.
  18. ^ Fagan, Brian M., and Charlotte Beck, The Oxford Companion to Archeology, entry on the "Dead sea scrolls", Oxford University Press, 1996.
  19. ^ Emanuel Tov, "Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible" (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001 2nd revised edition) ISBN 0-8006-3429-2.
  20. ^ Gaster, Theodor H., The Dead Sea Scriptures, Peter Smith Pub Inc., 1976. ISBN=0-8446-6702-1.
  21. ^ de Vaux, Roland, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schweich Lectures of the British Academy, 1959). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.
  22. ^ Milik, Józef Tadeusz, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judea, London: SCM, 1959.
  23. ^ For Sowmy, see: Trever, John C., The Untold Story of Qumran, (Westwood: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1965), p. 25.
  24. ^ Schiffman, Lawrence H., Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: their True Meaning for Judaism and Christianity, Anchor Bible Reference Library (Doubleday) 1995.
  25. ^ O’Callaghan-Martínez, Josep, Cartas Cristianas Griegas del Siglo V, Barcelona: E. Balmes, 1963.
  26. ^ Eisenman, Robert H. James, the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. 1st American ed. New York: Viking, 1997.
  27. ^ Rengstorf, Karl Heinrich. Hirbet Qumran und die Bibliothek vom Toten Meer. Translated by J. R. Wilkie. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1960.
  28. ^ Golb, Norman, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Search for the Secret of Qumran, New York: Scribner, 1995.
  29. ^ Hirschfeld, Yizhar, Qumran in Context: Reassessing the Archaeological Evidence, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.
  30. ^ Magen, Yizhak, and Yuval Peleg, The Qumran Excavations 1993-2004: Preliminary Report, JSP 6 (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 2007) Download.
  31. ^ Eisenman, Robert H. and James Robinson, A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls’ in two volumes (Biblical Archaeology Society of Washington, DC, Washington, DC, 1991).
  32. ^ Civil Case (Jer) 41/92 Qimron v. Shanks et al (March 30, 1993) [Hebrew].
  33. ^ Michael D. Birnhack, The Dead Sea Scrolls Case: Who Is an Author? 23 (3) EIPR 128 (2001); Roberta Rosenthal Kwall, Inspiration and Innovation: The Intrinsic Dimension of the Artistic Soul 81 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1945 (2006); David Nimmer, Authorship and Originality, 38 HOUSTON L. REV. 1, 159 (2001); Urszula Tempska, Originality” after the Dead Sea Scrolls Decision: Implications for the American Law of Copyright, 6 MARQ. INTELL. PROP. L. REV. 119 (2002); Timothy H. Lim, Intellectual Property and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dead Sea Discoveries Vol 9, No. 2 (2002) p. 187.
  34. ^ Rocker, Simon (2007-11-16). "The Dead Sea Scrolls…made in St John’s Wood". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
  35. ^ "(Hebrew) The Dead Sea Scrolls Being Exposed". YNET. 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  • Abegg, Jr., Martin, Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English, San Francisco: Harper, 2002. ISBN 0-06-060064-0, (contains the biblical portion of the scrolls)
  • Abegg, Jr. Martin, James E. Bowley, Edward M. Cook, Emanuel Tov. The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Vol 1.[1] Brill Publishing 2003. ISBN 90-04-12521-3.
  • Allegro, John Marco, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (ISBN 0-7153-7680-2), Westbridge Books, U.K., 1979.*Edward M. Cook, Solving the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls: New Light on the Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994.
  • Berg, Simon. Insights into the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Beginner’s Guide, BookSurge Publishing, 2009.
  • Boccaccini, Gabriele. Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
  • Charlesworth, James H. "The Theologies of the Dead Sea Scrolls." Pages xv-xxi in The Faith of Qumran: Theology of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Edited by H. Ringgren. New York: Crossroad, 1995.
  • Collins, John J., Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls, New York: Routledge, 1997.
  • Collins, John J., and Craig A. Evans. Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.
  • Cross, Frank Moore, The Ancient Library of Qumran, 3rd ed., Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8006-2807-1
  • Davies, A. Powell, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Signet, 1956.)
  • Davies, Philip R., George J. Brooke, and Phillip R. Callaway, The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls, London: Thames & Hudson, 2002. ISBN 0-500-05111-9
  • de Vaux, Roland, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schweich Lectures of the British Academy, 1959). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.
  • Dimant, Devorah, and Uriel Rappaport (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research, Leiden and Jerusalem: E. J. Brill, Magnes Press, Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1992.
  • Eisenman, Robert H., The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians, Shaftesbury: Element, 1996.
  • Eisenman, Robert H., and Michael O. Wise. The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered: The First Complete Translation and Interpretation of 50 Key Documents Withheld for Over 35 Years, Shaftesbury: Element, 1992.
  • Eisenman, Robert H. and James Robinson, A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls 2 vol., Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1991.
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph A., Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Paulist Press 1992, ISBN 0-8091-3348-2
  • Galor, Katharina, Jean-Baptiste Humbert, and Jürgen Zangenberg. Qumran: The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates: Proceedings of a Conference held at Brown University, November 17-19, 2002, Edited by Florentino García Martínez, Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57. Leiden: Brill, 2006.
  • García-Martinez, Florentino, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, (Translated from Spanish into English by Wilfred G. E. Watson) (Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1994).
  • Gaster, Theodor H., The Dead Sea Scriptures, Peter Smith Pub Inc., 1976. ISBN=0-8446-6702-1
  • Golb, Norman, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Search for the Secret of Qumran, New York: Scribner, 1995.
  • Heline, Theodore, Dead Sea Scrolls, New Age Bible & Philosophy Center, 1957, Reprint edition March 1987, ISBN 0-933963-16-5
  • Hirschfeld, Yizhar, Qumran in Context: Reassessing the Archaeological Evidence, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.
  • Israeli, Raphael, Piracy in Qumran: The Battle over the Scrolls of the Pre-Christ Era, Transaction Publishers: 2008 ISBN 978-1-4128-0703-6
  • Khabbaz, C., "Les manuscrits de la mer Morte et le secret de leurs auteurs",Beirut, 2006. (Ce livre identifie les auteurs des fameux manuscrits de la mer Morte et dévoile leur secret).
  • Magen, Yizhak, and Yuval Peleg, The Qumran Excavations 1993-2004: Preliminary Report, JSP 6 (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 2007)Download
  • Magen, Yizhak, and Yuval Peleg, "Back to Qumran: Ten years of Excavations and Research, 1993-2004," in The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57), Brill, 2006 (pp. 55–116).
  • Magness, Jodi, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
  • Maier, Johann, The Temple Scroll, [German edition was 1978], (Sheffield:JSOT Press [Supplement 34], 1985).
  • Milik, Józef Tadeusz, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judea, London: SCM, 1959.
  • Muro, E. A., "The Greek Fragments of Enoch from Qumran Cave 7 (7Q4, 7Q8, &7Q12 = 7QEn gr = Enoch 103:3-4, 7-8)." Revue de Qumran 18, no. 70 (1997): 307, 12, pl. 1.
  • O’Callaghan-Martínez, Josep, Cartas Cristianas Griegas del Siglo V, Barcelona: E. Balmes, 1963.
  • Qimron, Elisha, The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Harvard Semitic Studies, 1986. (This is a serious discussion of the Hebrew language of the scrolls.)
  • Rengstorf, Karl Heinrich, Hirbet Qumran und die Bibliothek vom Toten Meer, Translated by J. R. Wilkie. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1960.
  • Roitman, Adolfo, ed. A Day at Qumran: The Dead Sea Sect and Its Scrolls. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1998.
  • Sanders, James A., ed. Dead Sea scrolls: The Psalms scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (11QPsa), (1965) Oxford, Clarendon Press.
  • Schiffman,Lawrence H., Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: their True Meaning for Judaism and Christianity, Anchor Bible Reference Library (Doubleday) 1995, ISBN 0-385-48121-7, (Schiffman has suggested two plausible theories of origin and identity – a Sadducean splinter group, or perhaps an Essene group with Sadducean roots.) Excerpts of this book can be read at COJS: Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • Schiffman, Lawrence H., and James C. VanderKam, eds. Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Shanks, Hershel, The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Vintage Press 1999, ISBN 0-679-78089-0 (recommended introduction to their discovery and history of their scholarship)
  • Stegemann, Hartmut. "The Qumran Essenes: Local Members of the Main Jewish Union in Late Second Temple Times." Pages 83–166 in The Madrid Qumran Congress: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid, 18-21 March 1991, Edited by J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Mountainer. Vol. 11 of Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah. Leiden: Brill, 1992.
  • Thiede, Carsten Peter, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity, PALGRAVE 2000, ISBN 0-312-29361-5
  • Thiering, Barbara, Jesus the Man, New York: Atria, 2006.
  • Thiering, Barbara, Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ISBN 0-06-067782-1), New York: Harper Collins, 1992
  • VanderKam, James C., The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.
  • Vermes, Geza, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, London: Penguin, 1998. ISBN 0-14-024501-4 (good translation, but complete only in the sense that he includes translations of complete texts, but neglects fragmentary scrolls and more especially does not include biblical texts.)
  • Wise, Michael O., Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, (1996), HarperSanFrancisco paperback 1999, ISBN 0-06-069201-4, (contains the non-biblical portion of the scrolls, including fragments)
  • Yadin, Yigael. The Temple Scroll: The Hidden Law of the Dead Sea Sect, New York: Random House, 1985.
Other sources
  • Dead Sea Scrolls Study Vol 1: 1Q1-4Q273, Vol. 2: 4Q274-11Q31, (compact disc), Logos Research Systems, Inc., (contains the non-biblical portion of the scrolls with Hebrew and Aramaic transcriptions in parallel with English translations)

External links

The Dead Sea Scrolls Video

Dead Sea Scrolls Topics


4Q106 · 4Q107 · 4Q108 · 4Q175 · 4Q240 · 4Q246  · 4Q252 · 4QMMT · 4Q448 · 6Q6 · 7Q5 · The Book of Giants · The Book of Mysteries (1Q27 and 4Q299-301) · Community Rule (1QS) · Copper Scroll (3Q15) · Damascus Document (CD) · Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen ar) · Habakkuk Commentary (1QpHab) · Isaiah scroll (1QIsaa) ·Nahum Commentary (4QpNah) · The Rule of the Blessing (1QSb) · The Rule of the Congregation (1QSa) · The Secret of the Way Things Are · Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (4Q400-407) · Temple Scroll (11Q19) · Thanksgiving Hymns (1QH) · War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (1QM)


Qumran · Qumran Caves · Qumran Cemetery  · Ein Feshkha · Kohlit · Secacah · Wadi Murabba’at


Essenes · Sadducees · Carbon Dating  · Yahad Ostracon  · Pesher  · Calendrical texts  · Tanakh at Qumran · Teacher of Righteousness · Wicked Priest · Dual messiahs


John Marco Allegro · Joseph M. Baumgarten · Pierre Benoit · Frank Moore Cross · Philip R. Davies · André Dupont-Sommer · Robert Eisenman · Katharina Galor · Florentino García Martínez · Norman Golb · Jonas C. Greenfield · Gerald Lankester Harding · Yizhar Hirschfeld · Ernest-Marie Laperrousaz · Jodi Magness · Józef Milik · Bargil Pixner ·Elisha Qimron · Lawrence Schiffman · Solomon H. Steckoll · Hartmut Stegemann · John Strugnell · Eleazar Sukenik · Emanuel Tov · John C. Trever · Eugene Ulrich · Roland de Vaux · Géza Vermes · Yigael Yadin


Shrine of the Book · The Orion Center · École Biblique · Discoveries in the Judaean Desert · Mar Samuel · Muhammed edh-Dhib

Categories: Dead Sea scrolls | Jewish texts | Essene texts | Manuscripts | Archaeological corpora | British Library collections | Hebrew manuscripts | 2nd-century BC biblical manuscripts | 1st-century BC biblical manuscripts | 1st-century biblical manuscripts


1.The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between the years 1947 and 1956. The area is 13 miles east of Jerusalem and is 1300 feet below sea level. The mostly fragmented texts, are numbered according to the cave that they came out of. They have been called the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times. See a Dead Sea Scroll Jar.
Cave 12. Only Caves 1 and 11 have produced relatively intact manuscripts. Discovered in 1952, Cave 4 produced the largest find. About 15,000 fragments from more than 500 manuscripts were found.

3. In all, scholars have identified the remains of about 825 to 870 separate scrolls.

4. The Scrolls can be divided into two categories—biblical and non-biblical. Fragments of every book of the Hebrew canon (Old Testament) have been discovered except for the book of Esther.

5. There are now identified among the scrolls, 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms .

6. Prophecies by Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel not found in the Bible are written in the Scrolls.

7. The Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact, is 1000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah. In fact, the scrolls are the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found.

8. In the Scrolls are found never before seen psalms attributed to King David and Joshua.
Torah9.There are nonbiblical writings along the order of commentaries on the OT, paraphrases that expand on the Law, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and sapiential (wisdom) writings.

10. The Scrolls are for the most part, written in Hebrew, but there are many written in Aramaic. Aramaic was the common language of the Jews of Palestine for the last two centuries B.C. and of the first two centuries A.D. The discovery of the Scrolls has greatly enhanced our knowledge of these two languages. In addition, there are a few texts written in Greek.

11. The Scrolls appear to be the library of a Jewish sect. The library was hidden away in caves around the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70) as the Roman army advanced against the rebel Jews.

12. Near the caves are the ancient ruins of Qumran. They were excavated in the early 1950’s and appear to be connected with the scrolls.

13. The Dead Sea Scrolls were most likely written by the Essenes during the period from about 200 B.C. to 68 C.E./A.D. The Essenes are mentioned by Josephus and in a few other sources, but not in the New testament. The Essenes were a strict Torah observant, Messianic, apocalyptic, baptist, wilderness, new covenant Jewish sect. They were led by a priest they called the "Teacher of Righteousness," who was opposed and possibly killed by the establishment priesthood in Jerusalem.

14. The enemies of the Qumran community were called the "Sons of Darkness"; they called themselves the "Sons of Light," "the poor," and members of "the Way." They thought of themselves as "the holy ones," who lived in "the house of holiness," because "the Holy Spirit" dwelt with them.

15. The last words of Joseph, Judah, Levi, Naphtali, and Amram (the father of Moses) are written down in the Scrolls.
Cave 416. One of the most curious scrolls is the Copper Scroll. Discovered in Cave 3, this scroll records a list of 64 underground hiding places throughout the land of Israel. The deposits are to contain certain amounts of gold, silver, aromatics, and manuscripts. These are believed to be treasures from the Temple at Jerusalem, that were hidden away for safekeeping.

17. The Temple Scroll, found in Cave 11, is the longest scroll. Its present total length is 26.7 feet (8.148 meters). The overall length of the scroll must have been over 28 feet (8.75m).

18. The scrolls contain previously unknown stories about biblical figures such as Enoch, Abraham, and Noah. The story of Abraham includes an explanation why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac.

19. The scrolls are most commonly made of animal skins, but also papyrus and one of copper. They are written with a carbon-based ink, from right to left, using no punctuation except for an occasional paragraph indentation. In fact, in some cases, there are not even spaces between the words.

20. The Scrolls have revolutionized textual criticism of the Old Testament. Interestingly, now with manuscripts predating the medieval period, we find these texts in substantial agreement with the Masoretic text as well as widely variant forms.
Section of the Psalms Scroll21. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls actually appeared for sale on June 1, 1954 in the Wall Street Journal. The advertisement read — "The Four Dead Sea Scrolls: Biblical manuscripts dating back to at least 200 BC are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group. Box F206."

22. Although the Qumran community existed during the time of the ministry of Jesus, none of the Scrolls refer to Him, nor do they mention any of His follower’s described in the New Testament.

23. The major intact texts, from Caves 1 & 11, were published by the late fifties and are now housed in the Shrine of the Book museum in Jerusalem.

24. Since the late fifties, about 40% of the Scrolls, mostly fragments from Cave 4, remained unpublished and were unaccessible. It wasn’t until 1991, 44 years after the discovery of the first Scroll, after the pressure for publication mounted, that general access was made available to photographs of the Scrolls. In November of 1991 the photos were published by the Biblical Archaeological Society in a nonofficial edition; a computer reconstruction, based on a concordance, was announced; the Huntington Library pledged to open their microfilm files of all the scroll photographs.

25. The Dead Sea Scrolls enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity. They represent a non-rabbinic form of Judaism and provide a wealth of comparative material for New Testament scholars, including many important parallels to the Jesus movement. They show Christianity to be rooted in Judaism and have been called the evolutionary link between the two.
The rugged terrain of the Qumran area.

The rugged terrain of the Qumran area.



The Community Rule Scroll -- one of the seven original scrolls, attributed to an Essene community


Introduction to the Texts..

Working from many thousands of scroll fragments recovered in eleven caves near Qumran, researches have identified approximately 800 different original manuscripts.  A few scrolls were fairly intact when found, others have been tentatively pieced together, still more exist only as small scraps of parchment.  The preserved portions of a scroll often give only glimpses of what might have existed in the complete text.  (See the Introduction to the collection for more background information.)

DSS texts are identified by a number and letter combination, indicating the cave from which they were recovered: "1Q" indicates the text was found in Qumran cave 1; "4Q" means found in Qumran cave 4.  This initial code is followed by either a second number (the catalog file number assigned to each fragment as it was  archived) or by a few letters that abbreviate an alternative name given to a fragment by researchers, usually the supposed title of the text.  Many important scrolls existed in more than one copy. Surviving pieces of these were sometimes found in different caves.  For example, the section of text from the Book of Secrets (listed below), is reconstructed from fragment 27 found in Qumran Cave 1 (1Q27) and fragments 299-301 of a different copy found in Qumran Cave 4 (4Q299-301).

A variety of literary forms can be identified among the surviving texts. Although there is no generally accepted system of categorizing the scrolls, roughly speaking the manuscripts fall into one or more of the following genres:  Biblical texts, pentateuchal stories and commentaries; legal and ritual texts; prophets stories and commentaries; psalms and poetry; wisdom literature; prophecy and apocalyptics (visions); sectarian literature; and "miscellaneous things that don’t fit anywhere else".  Some texts can be assigned to several categories, depending on the subjective reading of the interpreter, which is why no system works very well. The great variety manifest in DSS texts has led some scholars to question whether a single sect at Qumran would have created or maintained such an apparently eclectic collection.

(While the resources archived here at The Gnosis Archive are permanent and have been stable resources for over 15 years, many other internet sites do suddenly disappear. We apologize for any links below to defunct resources at other internet locations — this is beyond our control; a Google search might find them in a new location.)

Visit the Bookstore for a complete listing of current editions of the complete Dead Sea Scrolls in tranlation.

Texts Archived in the Gnostic Society Library

This is a varied collection of short texts, representative of several types of DSS literature. One will note several unique mythical motifs developed in the DSS manuscripts, as well as imaginative or visionary reworking of traditional themes.  Study of the DSS has given new understanding of how dynamic and heterodox Judaism was in the intertestamental period.

The Divine Throne Chariot

The Book of Secrets (1Q27, 4Q299-301)
The Thanksgiving Psalms (1QHa)
The Parable of the Bountiful Tree (4Q302a)
A Baptismal Liturgy (4Q414)
The Coming of Melchizedek (11Q13)
Tongues of Fire (1Q29, 4Q376)

The Book of Giants (4Q203, 1Q23, 2Q26, 4Q530-532, 6Q8)

Texts Accompanying a Lecture by Vermes, Schiffman and Tov

[Unfortunately, as of 2010 the following resources have apparently disappeared from the internet:]

This series (The Dead Sea Scrolls with Rachel Kohn</HTTP: default.htm scrolls features religion>) was sponsored by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2000.  The texts presented are accompanied by photographs of the original scroll fragment, a translation and a short commentary.  (Note that the commentaries are representative of traditional views about the DSS and their source in an Essene community living at Qumran.)

Psalms 11Q5 Contains parts of 41 Biblical psalms, Apocryphal psalms (including the Apostrophe to Zion) and prose about the psalms written by King David.

The Nahum Commentary 4Q169 Prophetic commentary which alludes to the history of a sect, presumed to be the Qumran Essenes, and names real historic figures.

Community Rule 4Q260 Also known as The Manual of Discipline, it contains rules ordering the life of the sect presumed to have lived at Qumran and identified as Essenes by traditional interpreters of the DSS..

Acts of Torah 4Q394 Excerpt from a unique document in letter format, which outlines the religious laws peculiar to the sect, and in opposition to the law practiced by the Temple in Jerusalem.

War Rule 11Q14 An original composition attributed to the Essene sect by traditional interpreters of the scrolls, containing what may be a vision of the "end of days"

Exodus Fragment 4Q22 A fragment of Exodus 6:25-7:19

Texts Presented in the Library of Congress Exhibit

The Dead Sea Scroll Exhibit at the Library of Congress included translations and high-quality photographs of selected sections of several scrolls.  Each is accompanied by a short commentary,   a complete physical description of the scroll or fragment, and a list of references.

Psalms Tehillim

Phylactery Tefillin

The Community Rule Serkeh ha-Yahad

Calendrical Document Mishmarot

Some Torah Precepts Miqsat Ma`ase ha-Torah

Enoch Hanokh

Hosea Commentary Pesher Hoshe`a

Prayer for King Jonathan Tefillah li-Shlomo shel Yonatan ha-Melekh

Leviticus Va-Yikrah

Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice Shirot `Olat ha-Shabbat

Damascus Document Brit Damesek

The War Rule Serekh ha-Milhamah

Complete Scholarly Translations of Scroll Texts with Commentary

Great Isaiah Scroll (Fred Miller)This site presents the most impressive internet presentation of a complete scroll from the DSS. While the site offers little of interest to a casual reader, it gives glimpses into the issues involved in the analysis and translation of a scroll. It includes black & white plates of each column of The Great Isaiah Scroll (one of the first seven scrolls found in Cave 1, and the oldest extant Hebrew biblical manuscript), along with detailed notes on the physical condition of the manuscript and comparison of its orthography and  wording with the standard Masoretic text. The technical discussions of the site are obviously intended for scholars familiar with Hebrew.

Fragments of the Book of Enoch from Qumran Cave 7 (Ernest Muro) Again, a document of limited general interest.  It is dedicated to the detailed analysis of a tiny scroll fragment in Greek, once  argued (inaccurately, it appears) to be from a New Testament text. (Of course, the presence of a Christian text in the DSS find would have supported the original efforts to link the Qumran texts with Christian history; this tiny fragment of Greek text therefore became a focus of debate.) This site illustrates the complex task of reconstructing, identifying and then interpreting DSS fragments. It includes photos of the fragment with transcription and translation, as well as two articles (by E. Muro & E. Puech refuting claims that these are fragments of New Testament texts.

Paraphrases and Descriptions of Texts

These useful paraphrases and descriptions of a large variety of DSS texts were apparently a student project for "Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures", a course given at St. Joseph’s University byAlan Humm.

Pentateuchal stories and commentaries
Reworked Pentateuch (4QPPa=4Q158).
Genesis Apocryphon
Exhortation based on the Flood (4QFloodAp=4Q370).
Vision of Jacob (4QAJa=4Q537).

Legal and ritual texts
Ritual Purity Laws (4QTohorota=4Q274).

Psalms, Hymns, Poetry
Apocryphal Psalms (4QPsf=4Q88, 4QapPs=4Q448, 11QPsa-b=11Q5-6).
Thanksgiving Hymns #7 & 8 (1QH(odayot)a col.10).

Wisdom Literature
Wisdom Text (1Q26, 4QWisda)
Collecton of Proverbs (4QWisd).
Wiles of the Wicked Woman (4Q184).

Prophecy and Apocalyptic
The Chosen One (4Qelect, 4QarNC).
Words of Michael (4Qmich, 6Qunidar).

Miscellaneous Texts
The New Jerusalem (1QJNar, 2QExc, 4QJMa, 5QJNar, 11QJN).
The Copper Scroll (3QTreasurea).
Physiognomic Horoscopes (4QCryptic-4Q186, 4QPhysiogn).
Observances (4QCal (Mishmarot), 4QMMTa).
Targum of Job (4QtgJob, 11QtgJob).

Inventory of the Dead Sea Scrolls Manuscripts

A comprehensive and useful Inventory of all the Dead Sea Scroll Manuscripts has been compiled by Mitchell A. Hoselton.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Collection at The Gnostic Society Library


John M. Allegro

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


John Marco Allegro (17 February 1923, London – 17 February 1988) was a scholar who challenged orthodox views of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible and the history of religion, with books that attracted popular attention and scholarly derision.

After service in the Royal Navy during World War II, Allegro started to train for the Methodist ministry but transferred to a degree in Oriental Studies at the University of Manchester. In 1953 he was invited to become the first British representative on the international team working on the recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls in Jordan. The following year he was appointed assistant lecturer in Comparative Semitic Philology at Manchester, and held a succession of lectureships there until he resigned in 1970 to become a full-time writer. In 1961 he was made Honorary Adviser on the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Jordanian government.

Allegro’s thirteen books include The Dead Sea Scrolls (1956), The Treasure of the Copper Scroll (1960), The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (1979) as well as Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan vol. V(1968) and articles in academic journals such as the Journal of Biblical Literature, Palestine Exploration Quarterly and Journal of Semitic Studies [1], and in the popular press.

Access to the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written between 200 B.C.E. and 68 C.E., and give insight into the religious life and thought of a Jewish sect based at Qumran by the Dead Sea and usually identified as Essenes. Allegro believed the scrolls could help us understand the common origin of three religions: Judaism,Christianity and Islam. He hoped they might be able to bring together scholars of each tradition in studying their common heritage without the barriers of religious prejudice.

This would mean making the texts accessible to all. Allegro published the sections of text allotted to him in academic journals as soon as he had prepared them, and his volume (number five) in the official series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan was ready for the press by the early 1960s. He continually campaigned for the publication of all scroll texts. However, his colleagues (all ordained priests in the Catholic Church) took a different approach, and little else appeared until 1991.

Allegro saw himself as a publicist for the scrolls. His books, talks and broadcasts promoted public interest in the scrolls and their significance. At first, the rest of the team encouraged his efforts, which after all were intended to help fund their research. But they thought he went too far in making assertions about the parallels between Essenism and Christianity which they thought were unsupported by evidence and designed to raise his personal profile. He was accused of stirring up controversy at the expense of scholarship.

The Copper Scroll

The controversy over the Copper Scroll deepened the rift between Allegro and the team. At the request of the authorities, Allegro had arranged for the scroll to be cut open in Manchester over the winter of 1955/56. He supervised the opening and made a preliminary transcription and translation of the contents. He found it to be a list of Temple treasure hidden at various locations around Qumran and Jerusalem, most probably after the sack of Jerusalem in AD 70. Initial excitement turned to poison when the team accused Allegro of leaking information to the press (which was denied) and later objected to his pre-empting the official translation (in 1962) by publishing his own version first (in 1960). In Allegro’s defense, it is suggested the team had already issued a preliminary translation, and Allegro held his book back to try and let the official version take precedence. But he could not in honesty support the official interpretation of the Copper Scroll as a work of fiction, and some later scholars have endorsed his view that the treasure was real.[2]

Christian origins

Allegro believed that Essenism was the matrix of Christianity. He suggested that there were so many correspondences between the scroll texts and the New Testament — words and phrases, beliefs and practices, Messianic leadership, a teacher who was persecuted and possibly crucified — that he thought the derivation obvious. This brought him into conflict with the Catholic priests on the editing team, and with most church spokesmen, who maintained the orthodox assumption that the arrival of Jesus was the unique, historical, God-given event described in the Gospels. Allegro also started to look in more depth at the way the New Testament appeared to weave together a mix of folklore, myth, incantation and history.

Language, myth and religion

As a philologist, Allegro analysed the derivations of language. He traced biblical words and phrases back to their roots in Sumerian, and showed how Sumerian phonemes recur in varying but related contexts in many Semitic, classical and other Indo-European languages. Although meanings changed to some extent, Allegro found some basic religious ideas passing on through the genealogy of words. His book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross relates the development of language on Eurasia to the development of myths, religions and cultic practices in many cultures. Allegro believed he could prove through etymology that the roots of Christianity, as of many other religions, lay in fertility cults; and that cultic practices, such as ingesting hallucinogenic drugs to perceive the mind of god, persisted into Christian times.


The reaction to The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross ruined Allegro’s career.[3] His detractors considered his somewhat sensationalist approach deplorable and his arguments somewhere between unconvincing and ludicrous. Prof J. N. D. Anderson observed that the book was "dismissed by … experts…as not being based on any philological or other evidence that they can regard as scholarly."[4] Sumerian expert Anna Partington summarized some of the problems, stating that The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross "uses a number of hypothetical Sumerian words not attested in texts. These are marked with an asterisk following philological convention. This is akin to proposing there is a word in the English language ‘bellbat’ because the individual words ‘bell’ and ‘bat’ are known to exist separately. Then again words of different languages are gathered together without the type of argument which would be expected in order to demonstrate possible relationship."[5]


However, Allegro’s work has been adopted by some alternative authors. In May 2006, Michael Hoffman of and Jan Irvin wrote an article for The Journal of Higher Criticism[6] entitled Wasson and Allegro on the Tree of Knowledge as Amanita [7] that suggested that Allegro’s work should be evaluated on its merits like that of any other scholar and not dismissed merely because its arguments fall outside the mainstream. In 2008 Prof. John Rush of Sierra College published Failed God [8] that also gives heavy support for Allegro’s theories. In November 2009 The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross was reprinted in a 40th anniversary edition with a preface by Jan Irvin, a foreword by Judith Anne Brown, and a 30 page addendum by Prof. Carl A.P. Ruck of Boston University with new linguistic evidence that supports Allegro’s theories.[9]

"The concerted and biased attempts to destroy Allegro’s discoveries have failed. The confirmatory evidence is mounting in his favor. The critics can now raise their voices again. Let us hope that they do, since the matter is not settled, but they should be advised to do so with more careful consideration. This book that many have prized in secret is now available again. It demands the serious consideration of theologians, mythologists, and students of religion. No account of the history of the Church, both West and East, can afford to leave the poor despicable fungus unconsidered, nor the role that entheogens in general have played in the evolution of European civilization." ~ Professor Carl A. P. Ruck, Boston University

Allegro went on to write several other books exploring the roots of religion; notably The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth, which seek to relate Christian theology to Gnostic writings, classical mythology and Egyptian sun-worship in the common quest for divine light.

Allegro believed the Dead Sea Scrolls raised issues that concerned everyone. It wasn’t just a matter of dusty manuscripts and disputed translations. Rather, the story of the scrolls raised questions about freedom of access to evidence, freedom of speech, and freedom to challenge orthodox religious views.

"… with the unhappy record of the church for destroying documents and whole libraries of which it disapproved, as well as its predeliction for controlling the reading habits and opportunities of the faithful, one can only continue to be apprehensive about the church’s attitude when religiously sensitive information comes into its hands,…" [10]

Allegro believed that through understanding the origins of religion people could be freed from its bonds to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own judgments.


The Pharmacratic Inquisition DVD – Official Online Edition

How deep does the rabbit hole go? Gnostic Media is proud to present the official online edition of The Pharmacratic Inquisition 2007. If you enjoyed “Zeitgeist – The Movie”, you will love this video; the creators of this video are listed as one of the sources for the Zeitgeist Movie. The Pharmacratic Inquisition 2007 is a video version of the book, “Astrotheology & Shamanism” by Jan Irvin & Andrew Rutajit. The painstakingly detailed and heavily footnoted research in the book comes to life in this video and is now available to you for FREE! For further research of the claims made in this video, please read AstroTheology & Shamanism – this book is available to order as a combo with the DVD. Thousands of years ago, in the pre monarchic era, sacred plants and other entheogenic substances where politically correct and highly respected for their ability to bring forth the divine, Yahweh, God, The Great Spirit, etc., by the many cultures who used them. Often the entire tribe or community would partake in the entheogenic rites and rituals. These rites were often used in initiation into adulthood, for healing, to help guide the community in the decision process, and to bring the direct religious experience to anyone seeking it. In the pre literate world, the knowledge of psychedelic sacraments, as well as fertility rites and astronomical knowledge surrounding the sun, stars, and zodiac, known as astrotheology, were anthropomorphized into a character or a deity; consequently, their stories and practices could easily be passed down for generations. Weather changes over millenniums caused environmental changes that altered the available foods and plant sacraments available in the local vicinity. If a tribe lost its shamanic El-der (El – God), all of the tribe’s knowledge of their plant sacraments as well as astronomical knowledge would be lost. The Church’s inquisitions extracted this sacred knowledge from the local Shamans who were then exterminated…It is time to recognize the fact that this Pharmacratic Inquisition is still intact and destroy it.«


The Pharmacratic Inquisition

The Pharmacratic Inquisition video was never produced for public release. The video was shot on a $500 budget over three days in order to help us gain sponsorship to finish our book Astrotheology & Shamanism, pub. in January, 2006. Because this video was never intended for public release, there are a few minor errors (besides our occasional uhs, ums, mispronunciations, and studering) that need addressing. For those interested in complete and updated sources and full information about the contents in this video may seek out our book. It is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from our publisher