Of all the manuscripts discovered in the caves near the northwestern end of the Dead Sea in Palestine, none can compare in importance and significance with the great scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Written in a beautiful Hebrew hand on 17 sheets of leather sewed together, it consists of 54 columns. It is about a foot in height and 24 feet long. The clearly written text is not divided into chapters as is the case in our English Bibles, but into paragraphs.
Antiquity Of The Scroll
There now seems to be fairly widespread agreement that the scroll of the prophet Isaiah comes from the late second century B.C. There has been much debate, and the question of the date has been subjected to thorough scrutiny and inquiry. Comparison with other ancient writing and the studies of archaeologists have rather clearly established that the early date for this scroll must be accepted. It is at least earlier than the time of our Lord. The archaeological evidence is particularly strong. The monastery at Qumran near the Dead Sea has been excavated, and it is clear that the community was active at this time. It is not our purpose to discuss the methods by which the antiquity of the scroll was established. The reader who is interested in this subject may refer to the splendid treatment in Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (1955, pp. 102 ff).
What is of importance to note is that the Isaiah scroll from the Dead Sea is without question the earliest known extant entire copy of any book of the Bible. It is about one thousand years earlier than the earliest portion of any copies of the Hebrew Old Testament now extant. In the light of this fact we may well ask, What light does this important manuscript throw upon the text of the Old Testament?
The answer ...1
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