What is the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Dead Sea Scroll Genesis

Approximately 15,000 fragments from some 574 manuscripts were found

by Will Varner Ph.D
What is the most important archaeological discovery to date?

“Probably the Dead Sea Scrolls have had the greatest Biblical impact. They have provided Old Testament manuscripts approximately 1,000 years older than our previous oldest manuscript. The Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated that the Old Testament was accurately transmitted during this interval. In addition, they provide a wealth of information on the times leading up to, and during, the life of Christ.” Dr. Bryant Wood

Men of Qumran and the Messiah

Juma was beginning to get nervous. Some of his goats were climbing too high up the cliffs. He decided to climb the face of the cliff himself to bring them back. Little did Juma realize as he began his climb on that January day in 1947 that those straying goats would eventually involve him in “the greatest archaeological discovery in the twentieth century.” Such thoughts were far from his mind when he saw two small openings to one of the thousands of caves that dot those barren cliffs overlooking the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.

He threw a rock into one of the openings. The unexpected cracking sound surprised him; what else could be in those remote caves but treasure? He called to his cousins, Khalil and Muhammed, who climbed up and heard the exciting tale. But it was getting late, and the goats had to be gathered. Tomorrow they would return—perhaps their days of following goats would come to an end once the treasure was uncovered!

Cave 4 at Qumran where approximately 15,000 fragments from some 574 manuscripts were found.

The youngest of the three, Muhammed, rose the next day before his two fellow “treasure-seekers” and made his way to the cave. The cave floor was covered with debris, including broken pottery. Along the wall stood a number of narrow jars, some with their bowl-shaped covers still in place. Frantically, Muhammed began to explore the inside of each jar, but no treasure of gold was to be found… only a few bundles wrapped in cloth and greenish with age. Returning to his cousins, he related the sad news—no treasure.

No treasure indeed! The scrolls those Bedouin boys removed from that dark cave that day and the days following would come to be recognized as the greatest manuscript treasure ever found—the first seven manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls!

Such was the discovery of a group of manuscripts which were a thousand years older than the then-oldest-known Hebrew texts of the Bible (manuscripts, many of which were written more than 100 years before the birth of Jesus). These manuscripts would excite the archaeological world and provide a team of translators with a gigantic task that even to this day has not been completed…

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image credit: deadseascrolls.org