The scrolls were written during a time of significant turmoil and strife between the Greek-influenced elite and the more traditional Jewish populations of Judea. From the time of Alexander the Great’s death to the fall of Masada at the hands of the Romans, a series of historic events would influence the authors of the scrolls and the population as a whole. This is the historical context for the creation of the scrolls and the foundations of both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.
Alexander the Great defeats Persia and conquers Judea beginning widespread Hellenization of the area.
Alexander the Great dies creating a power struggle between the Seleucids of Syria and the Ptolemies of Egypt.
Date of the oldest Dead Sea Scrolls
Judea becomes a province of the Seleucid Empire
Jerusalem becomes a polis
Forced Hellenization and persecution of the Jews including the banning of circumcision and religious observances such as the Sabbath, and forced paganism and consumption of foods forbidden by Jewish law.
Rise of the Maccabees
Nash Papyrus, oldest known Biblical manuscript fragment before discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Foundation of the Maccabbean, or Hasmonean, dynasty
Period of unrest between Hasmoneans and Pharisees. Jews in opposition flee to Judean desert and settle at Qumran
Judea conquered by Rome
Herod the Great appointed ruler by Rome, end of Hasmoneaen dynasty
ca. 4 B.C.E.
Birth of Jesus of Nazareth
Pontius Pilate prefect of Judea
ca. 30 C.E.
Crucifixion of Jesus
First Jewish Revolt against Rome
Gospel of Mark composed
Date of the last Dead Sea Scrolls
Fall of Jerusalem to Roman army
Gospel of Matthew composed
Fall of Masada, last Jewish stronghold against Rome
Gospel of Luke composed
Gospel of John composed