The Dead Sea Scrolls—Qumran Calmly Revisited

At the time of their discovery, the Dead Sea scrolls, like any major archeological find, were a cause for controversy. This article briefly discusses the history of the scrolls’ discovery and outlines the contents of the Qumran library. Scholars agree that the authors of the scrolls were probably Essenes, a group that saw themselves as the new Israel in the desert, teaching a pure form of Judaism and awaiting the imminent end of the world. A number of parallels exist between the Qumran community and the early Christian church, including their name, organization, ordinances, and teleological language. However, there are also significant differences between the groups in their basic doctrine, and there is no evidence that Jesus himself was associated with this sect. The scrolls remain integral to Biblical and Jewish studies, but they should in no way be considered documents of early Christianity.

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