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The Dead Sea Scrolls and why they matter

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The Dead Sea Scrolls have fascinated the world since their discovery 60 years ago. This collection of articles from Biblical Archaeology Review covers some of the major topics in Scrolls studies.

Just what are the Dead Sea Scrolls, anyway? Who wrote them, and when? Most scholars believe they were the work of an ancient group of Jews known as the Essenes, who lived at the settlement of Qumran, along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, near where the Scrolls were found. Biblical Archaeology Review editor Hershel Shanks, in “The Enigma of Qumran,” interviewed four prominent archaeologists about the site and its relationship (or not) to the Scrolls.

In “An Interview with John Strugnell,” Shanks talks to the highly respected but controversial former editor of the Scrolls publication project about the earliest days of Scrolls research and about the tumultuous period that would see the Scrolls opened up to all scholars for study.

The Dead Sea Scrolls generated so much excitement when they were first found in part because it was thought they might contain some of the earliest Christian writings. Graham Stanton asks, “A Gospel Among the Scrolls?” but replies, Alas not.

Though the Scrolls do not contain early Christian writings, they do reflect a worldview very similar to that of Jesus and John the Baptist. Magen Broshi explains “What Jesus Learned from the Essenes.”

Ben Zion Wacholder examines perhaps the key figure in the Dead Sea Scrolls in “Who Is the Teacher of Righteousness?”

Hartmut Stegemann discusses another aspect of this figure in “Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness—Similarities and Differences.”

These articles are just a taste of what BAS has published on the Dead Sea Scrolls over the years. To access all the past issues of BAS publications, full of articles about the Dead Sea Scrolls, become a BAS Library Member. Click here to join today!

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