What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Reasons They Are Important

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?  What is the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls?  What do they mean for the Christian and the Bible?

What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

What one Bedouin shepherd boy found would forever change history and the veracity of the Bible.  One day, as boys  often want to do, a young shepherd boy was throwing rocks as he tended a flock of sheep.  He saw a cave and threw some rocks into it when suddenly he heard something shatter.  The result was the discovery of the greatest natural treasury of biblical scrolls the world has ever seen.  Since the discovery of the scrolls was near the Dead Sea, this is the name that was attached to the find.  Later on, several other scrolls were found in nearby caves.  Thus far, 11 caves have been discovered that contained Old Testament scrolls.

What the shepherd boy discovered in 1947 and into 1948, was an amazing collection of Old Testament scrolls; 972 to be exact.  One of the reasons that they are such an important find is that these scrolls were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  Many were written centuries apart and had different authors, but they contextually agreed with one another.  They were found, ironically, one year before the modern nation of Israel was founded in 1948.  These scrolls were hidden by the Essenes, a now extinct sect of the Jewish nation, for the purpose of protecting them. These scrolls were preserved in sealed clay vessels and written on parchment , papyrus, and even copper scrolls.

What is the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls? 

One reason for their significance is that they support the veracity or truthfulness of the Bible.  There were over 40 authors who wrote 66 books in three languages, yet the margin of error was leDetail From A Dead Sea Scrollss than 1%.  Most of these errors consisted of minor spelling and punctuation differences and did not affect the context of the books.

Many of the books make up much of the Old Testament and contained the Bible books of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Deuteronomy, Psalms, I and II Samuel, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Daniel, Job, Ruth, Ezekiel, and several others.  Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament which supports the idea that the Bible is the Word of God.   Jesus quoted Deuteronomy three times during His temptations in the wilderness with Satan and He quoted the prophet Isaiah when He taught in the Temple in Jerusalem.  The significance of Jesus’ quoting these books and that they match His quotes indicates that they are an actual account of the biblical history of Israel.

What do they mean for the Christian and the Bible?

One of the reasons that the Dead Sea Scrolls are so important to the Christian is that they support what has been recorded in the New Testament.  The apostles frequently quoted the Old Testament as did Jesus.  They quoted the Old Testament for purposes of theological teachings that applied in both the New Testament church and during Jesus’ ministry on earth.  By Jesus’ and the apostles quoting them, they are showing support of the relevancy of the Old Testament and at the same time, the New Testament.  Many of these Old Testament scrolls contained prophecies.  These prophecies were fulfilled in the New Testament period.  Taken together, the Old Testament supports the New Testament by the historical fulfillment of those things that it predicted.  Conversely, the multiple quotes in the New Testament of the Old Testament plainly indicate that the Old Testament was also the Word of God and was thus inspired.  In fact the Bible says that all of the Word of God, the Bible, is inspired by God.   It is literally called “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 1 Corn. 2:12-13).  The words “God breathed” in 2 Timothy 3:16 literally means from the breath or from the mouth of God (Greek “theopneustos“, theo; God, pneustos: breathed). What this says is that the Bible was not written by men but by God Himself.  Second Peter 1:21 says that the Word of God “…never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

To date, almost 6,000 manuscripts, fragments, and pieces have been discovered and every few years more are found.  The massive amount of manuscripts found to date is exceedingly more substantial than any other human document ever written by mankind.  There is nothing even remotely close to this in all of human history.  What this means for believers is that they can depend upon the Bible’s veracity.  It is an accurate portrayal of events in the history of Israel, the ministry of Jesus Christ, the apostles, as well as the New Testament church.  It holds 66 books, penned by 40 different authors, many who never knew each other, and written in three languages over almost 2,000 years.  The Word of God will never, ever be outdated and is relevant forever (Mark 13:31)!

What it all means is that the Christian can believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, that contains objective truths, that it is free from error and contradictions, it can be completely trusted and it was written by God Himself.   And the story of the fall, restoration, and redemption of humans who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can also be believed.  It is absolutely secure and it is more certain than the sunrise tomorrow.  It is also why so many millions have placed their trust in it and in Who this book is about.  In fact, they stake their eternity on it.  My wish is that you too will believe it.  Even more importantly, that you will believe in the person that this book is all about, from start to finish: Jesus Christ.

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If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons to the left. You might also find some of these other good Christian Answer articles helpful:

What is Speaking in Tongues?

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Do Animals or Pets Go To Heaven?


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THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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