History & Overview of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls Archives - Biblical Archaeology Society
In the last two decades of the twentieth century, several objections to the Qumran-Essene thesis of the Scrolls' origins were voiced within the academic community. Even louder objections arose over continued refusal of the Dead Sea Scrolls "team" to allow all qualified scholars open access to unpublished materials in the collection. After forty years, Scrolls research remained the exclusive domain of a small, self-selected team of scholars. Worse still, over several decades the group had made woefully little progress publishing material from the collection, particularly the large cache of scroll fragments discovered in Cave 4. The whole project was becoming an academic scandal, intermittently punctuated by conspiracy theories suggesting occult purposes motivating sequestration of the yet unpublished materials.
The Dead Sea Scrolls Shed Light on the Accuracy of our …
The "Qumran-Essene dogma" was originally developed to explain a relatively small number of newly discovered documents, including texts in a previously unknown literary style that apparently represented a divergent, "sectarian" voice within Judaism. Early studies of the DSS identified this voice as Essene, and viewed the Scrolls as a remnant of the sect's library. As the numbers and kinds of scrolls discovered multiplied however, critics argued that the probability all these manuscripts had been collected, copied, and archived by a single Essene community living at Qumran dwindled. Over 800 distinct documents have been identified among the scroll fragments found in the caves of the Judean desert. A large number of these are previously unknown works written in several styles. Hundreds of different scribal hands are found in the manuscripts, including fragments in Greek script. In addition, as Dr. Golb argues, the collection is almost devoid of the type of "historical autographs" works in an author's own hand, such as personal and official letters, lists of names, inventories, deeds of ownership that might link a cache of documents with a specific source community. Objective archeological scrutiny of the Qumran site also suggests it may have functioned in ancient times as a military fortress, and not principally or exclusively as a religious and scribal commune. Persuaded by such arguments, several scholars have completely rejected the traditional "story of the Dead Sea Scrolls".