In 1947 the first manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the cliffs of the Jordan Rift. In 1962 the latest discovery of documents from the Rift came to light, the Samaria legal papyri of the fourth century B.C.E. In the interval, manuscripts and papyri were found in addition caves and ruins. Most recently of all, manuscripts have been dug up from the ruins of the diamond-shaped fortress of Masada.
In another generation each of these finds would have been called sensational. Now thirty-five years of discovery and research are past. I think it fair to say that another thirty-five years will pass before the first exploratory investigation of these “treasures of darkness” will be completed. The impact of these years of discovery and study will be enormous: (1) upon our understanding of the history of the biblical text, (2) upon our understanding of the development of biblical religion, and (3) upon our understanding of the emergence of the Jewish and Christian strains of faith which claim the Bible as their heritage.