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The Discovery Of The Dead Sea Scrolls

1755 words - 7 pages

The Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which was initially made in 1947, represents one of the most important archeological discoveries made in the twentieth century. In the caves of the cliffs overhanging the northwestern end of the Dead Sea, in an area now known as Khirbet Qumran, a number of large clay jars containing more than six hundred ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts were discovered by some travelling Bedouins. These manuscripts were attributed to the members of a previously unknown Jewish brotherhood, and were written approximately between the years of 100BCE and 68CE. While these scrolls provide scientists and historians with a window into a previously undiscovered community, the Dead Sea Scrolls are of particular interest to biblical scholars in that they shed light on the intertestamental period, and the religious atmosphere prior to, during and, immediately following the lifetime of Jesus. It is most likely that these manuscripts can be connected with the Jewish sect known as the Essenes; this particular group withdrew from the Jewish community in Jerusalem, and went to live by the Dead Sea, forming a monastic community. The most striking feature of the Dead Sea Scrolls is the parallels these manuscripts share with the early Christian religion, and more specifically, the likelihood that Jesus and John the Baptist crossed paths with the Qumran Essene sect. Both the forms of organization and the religious rituals observed by the Qumran Essenes bear a striking resemblance to their early Christian counterparts. While absolute, historical statements are difficult to make, because of the overlap and contradictions between religious and historical documentation in both the Bible and in the Dead Sea Scrolls, one cannot deny the many striking similarities between primitive Christianity and the Judaism of the Essenian sect. The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls greatly aids the biblical scholar in his understanding of the formative period in Christian history.
One of the most exciting discoveries made in the Qumran manuscripts was of a priest character that, at least seemingly, resembles Jesus Christ. The Dead Sea Scrolls revealed the existence of a great religious figure known as the Teacher of Righteousness. This figure bears many striking resemblances to Jesus of Nazareth, though the dates of each figure eliminate any possibility of them being the same person. It has been established that the Teacher of Righteousness lived at least half a century before Jesus, and like Jesus and his disciples, led his followers into a new Mosaic covenant, a return to a strict obedience of the laws of Moses. The facts surrounding the case of the Teacher of Righteousness are few; saysYigael Yadin in his book, The Message of the Scrolls, "[w]e must…be satisfied with the facts about him in the Habakkuk Commentary and the Damascus Covenant. We know he was a priest endowed with the ability to...

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