It was in 1947 that the first discoveries of the remarkable manuscripts, now commonly known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, were made. Already the amount of literature concerned with these scrolls has grown tremendously. Several popular books have been published, to say nothing of numerous articles, both popular and technical; even some books of a technical nature have appeared. It is of course impossible to keep up with this large output, and even a specialist in the Old Testament can do little more than read the more important publications. Sufficient time has elapsed, however, so that it is now possible to speak with some positiveness as to the relationship these scrolls bear to the origins of Christianity. This is particularly needful inasmuch as the idea is widespread that the scrolls were the work of Essenes, and that John the Baptist was once a member of the Essenes, who introduced some of their ideas into Christianity.
The Principal Documents
In this present article we shall seek to present a survey of the principal documents discovered so far and to indicate briefly their relationship to Christianity. In a following article we hope to deal in more detail with the importance of the Isaiah manuscript for biblical studies generally.
The scroll of Isaiah is perhaps the most important of all the manuscript finds, and is certainly the most sensational. It is written on seventeen sheets of leather sewed end to end, in fifty-four columns of writing, and in its entirety is more than twenty-four feet in length.
The manuscript has been dated as belonging to the second half of the second century B.C. If this dating is correct, it is the oldest extant copy of any biblical book. This fact is of the utmost importance, for previous to the ...1
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