Aramaic Biographies of Angels and Demons

Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Shorts, Episode 1

Part of the challenge and opportunity of studying the Bible is that, while it often feels familiar, it comes from a foreign context. The texts and traditions of scripture come from ancient cultures, people, places, and even languages that are lost to most modern minds. When we enter into the Bible, then, we are in a world that is not our own.

It is also a world about which our knowledge is fragmentary. In the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls, sometimes this means literally a fragmentary knowledge. Most of these nearly 1,000 manuscripts found between 1947–1955 are deteriorated to such a degree that they provide but glimpses of ancient Jewish ideas and practices of Second Temple period Judaism. Despite their generally small size, the Dead Sea fragments make a big impact. These texts help us recover new insights into the times between the Hebrew Bible and Mishnah, as well as the Old and New Testaments.

One big topic that develops in this era is an explosion of thought on the existence, roles, and even names of otherworldly beings. In today’s vocabulary, we might call these angels and demons. The Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those penned in Aramaic, occupy an important place in recovering the biographies of the otherworldly benevolent or malevolent beings.

The Canada Research Chair in Religious Identities of Ancient Judaism at Trinity Western University is launching a new open-access initiative to answer such big questions. Our first episode of Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Shorts, steps into the gap of Aramaic ancient Judaism and explores the question: Where do angels and demons come from?

Be sure to subscribe to Dr. Andrew Perrin’s YouTube channel and follow Bible History Daily for news of future episodes.

Andrew PerrinAndrew Perrin is Canada Research Chair in Religious Identities of Ancient Judaism and Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. His work on the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls has won the Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise and the David Noel Freedman Award for Excellence and Creativity in Hebrew Bible Scholarship. For more on his work, connect on Twitter and Instagram (@ab_perrin) and the website

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

The Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls Online: IAA Expands Digital Library

Dead Sea Scrolls History: Looking Back on the Last 75 Years

The “Original” Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls

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