view from mouth of scroll cave 1 at Qumran toward Dead Sea 

Dead  Sea Scrolls

Fragmentary mss. discovered since 1947 in caves in the cliffs along the left bank of the Dead Sea.  Manuscripts found in eleven caves within a few miles of ancient ruins on a plateau overlooking the mouth of wadi Qumran have become the focus of international scholarly debate related to the history of Judaism. All parties agree on the importance of these scrolls but differ on the identity of their authors & the circumstances of their composition. Scholars who first studied the scrolls identified them as the library of the secretive ancient Jewish sect of the Essenes based in the adjacent settlement at Qumran. This identification remains the dominant scholarly consensus after more than half a century of debate but continues to be challenged by scholars who argue (a) that the scrolls were produced by other Jewish or early Christian groups or (b) originated elsewhere. 

Other resources on line:

  • Dead Sea Scrolls - illustrated analysis of scrolls, scholarly controversies & catalogue of major finds in each cave at Qumran [Wikipedia].



reconstructed jar containing scrolls

For further details see:

Timetable of Discovery & Debate

Important Manuscripts

Perspective on the World of Jesus

Copyright 1999-2023 Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website
OCLC catalog no.: 62046512