The Dead Sea Scrolls, in the narrow sense of Qumran Caves Scrolls, are a collection of some 981 different texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 in eleven caves in the immediate vicinity of the ancient settlement at Khirbet Qumran 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, Aramaic and Greek, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus. These manuscripts generally date between 150 BCE and 70 CE.
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, Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups.
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.
- History & Overview
(Scrolls From the Dead Sea; Sussman and Peled)
- Fifty Years After the Scrolls’ Discovery
(Israel Magazine; Griver)
- The “Dead Sea Sect”
(Israeli Foreign Ministry; Encyclopaedia Judaica)
- The Book of Covenant of Damascus
- The Testament of Naphtali
- The Thanksgiving Psalms