So, what exactly are the Dead Sea Scrolls? If you’re like most people, you know that they’re really old and have something to do with the Bible- that’s about it. Which is why over the next two weeks, we’ll be providing you with a brief overview of what the Dead Sea Scrolls are, and why they’re so important.
Let’s start with what the Dead Sea Scrolls are:
When we talk about the scrolls, we’re referring to almost 1,000 documents and fragments of documents discovered at Qumran, which is near the northwestern edge of the Dead Sea near Jerusalem—the lowest spot on earth at almost 1400 feet below sea level!
The scrolls were composed between the third century BCE and 68 CE during what’s known as the Second Temple Period, which was the time following Babylonian Exile, when Jews returned to Israel and rebuilt their temple in Jerusalem, until the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 70 CE , when the temple was destroyed.
While scholars debate who authored the scrolls, most agree that the scrolls were composed by one or more Jewish sects that were active at the time. While some of the scrolls may have been created in Qumran, we can’t say for certain if all of them were, or if some of them were brought to Qumran for safekeeping. The settlement at Qumran was destroyed by the Romans in 68 CE, but the scrolls, hidden deep in dark, dry caves, were preserved for 2,000 years.