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Old October 8th, 2008, 04:54 AM   #1
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Dead Sea Scrolls


Have been reading about them on the internet but most articles talk about the discovery of the scrolls and about the controversy associated with them. None could tell me the significance of the scrolls or what exactly they contain. And how their contents change or affect our perception of the times they refer to.

Can anybody here put things in context for me?

Thanks muchly.
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Old October 8th, 2008, 07:41 AM   #2

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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


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Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
Have been reading about them on the internet but most articles talk about the discovery of the scrolls and about the controversy associated with them. None could tell me the significance of the scrolls or what exactly they contain. And how their contents change or affect our perception of the times they refer to.

Can anybody here put things in context for me?

Thanks muchly.
As to how their contents change or affect the perception of the times they refer to, this is of interest to students of the practice of Judaism in the Second Temple period, after about 515 BC, as described in the Book of Ezra.

The other significant thing is that the Tanakh (or the Old Testament) had been translated into Hebrew (or English, German, French, etc) from the Septuagint, a Greek translation from earlier Hebrew manuscripts (which are irretrievably lost) made around 250 BC. The Dead Sea Scrolls, since they were written in Hebrew before 100 AD, can be checked against the Greek.

The verdict is that for the most part, ancient copyists/translators were deadly serious about their jobs.

As for context, I think there must be at least three. One would be the idea that fables should be handed down through the centuries accurately. Another would be monotheism. Another would be the appreciation of old stuff for it's own sake.

So, no, you've got to put it in context for yourself, just like everybody else. Take your pick.
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Old October 8th, 2008, 07:49 AM   #3

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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


I believe that the main significance of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is that they provide a snapshot of Old Testament texts that predate subsequent revisions (in some cases by many centuries) - and until the discovery of the scrolls, those later versions were considered to be the best known "definitive" examples of those religious writings. Although the text of many of the scrolls does not differ much from the later (and better-known) ancient versions, in some cases the differences are dramatic. Many people are uncomfortable with the notion that biblical content has evolved over time and has been subject to the editorial whims of countless people along the way. The discovery of the scrolls necessitates that debate - and has caused people to cook up conspiracy theories about everything from the legitimacy of the scrolls' origin to the pace at which the scolls have been translated and made available to the public.

As you probably already know, people who staunchly believe in a particular thing don't like having their belief systems rattled, even slightly...
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Old October 9th, 2008, 08:53 AM   #4
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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


Thank you. When you say "biblical content", you surely mean the Jewish Bible? One of the theories I've heard regarding the scrolls, and it's a pretty wild one, is that the scrolls might contain information that could show Christianity actually predated Christ. That Rabbinic Judiasm and Christianity are actually two Jewish sects that rose from the Essene sect during Herod's rule. Christianity was at that time incipient and Christ later gave the set of beliefs a concrete form.
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Old October 9th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #5

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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


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Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
When you say "biblical content", you surely mean the Jewish Bible?
I meant both the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh) and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The Tanakh was essentially incorporated into the Christian Bible as the Old Testament. There are some variations between them (as well as varations among Christian versions of the Bible), but much of the content is the same basic stuff.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 08:35 AM   #6

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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
Have been reading about them on the internet but most articles talk about the discovery of the scrolls and about the controversy associated with them. None could tell me the significance of the scrolls or what exactly they contain. And how their contents change or affect our perception of the times they refer to.

Can anybody here put things in context for me?

Thanks muchly.
There is a book out there that might help...

James VanderKam. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I took a class in college on the the scrolls and have had an opportunity to teach it to others. VanderKam's book will give you what you need.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 11:28 AM   #7
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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


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Originally Posted by Bucephalus View Post
I meant both the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh) and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The Tanakh was essentially incorporated into the Christian Bible as the Old Testament. There are some variations between them (as well as varations among Christian versions of the Bible), but much of the content is the same basic stuff.
Oh... ok. Still not very familiar with Bible's structure. The scrolls can't possbily have had anything to do with Christianity...

I find the overlaps between the two religions very confusing. I can't see the separating lines, so to speak.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 11:29 AM   #8
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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


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There is a book out there that might help...

James VanderKam. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I took a class in college on the the scrolls and have had an opportunity to teach it to others. VanderKam's book will give you what you need.
Since there's hardly anything on the internet, I might have to try just that. Thanks. Hope it's not written in a very scholarly (read turn-offish) way.
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Old October 21st, 2008, 02:24 AM   #9
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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


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Originally Posted by Lucius View Post
The Dead Sea Scrolls, since they were written in Hebrew before 100 AD, can be checked against the Greek.
The scrolls are all from the BC times if I'm not mistaken. Where did you get the 100 AD date?
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Old October 21st, 2008, 07:52 AM   #10

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Re: Dead Sea Scrolls


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Originally Posted by Rosicrucian View Post
Oh... ok. Still not very familiar with Bible's structure. The scrolls can't possbily have had anything to do with Christianity...

I find the overlaps between the two religions very confusing. I can't see the separating lines, so to speak.
This will be an overly simplistic explanation, but Christianity began essentially as an offshoot of Judaism. The Christian Bible (which has a number of variations) is basically composed of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament portion of the Bible is basically the same thing as the Hebrew Tanakh (again, with some modifications). The key difference between the two religions is the Christian emphasis on the New Testament teachings of the life and message of Jesus Christ. Any Christian who has the opportunity to attend services at a Jewish synagogue will find many of the teachings and religious stories to be very familiar - for they are derived from the same literary foundation as the Christian Old Testament.

Christianity has added quite a bit of subsequent material to that original foundation - and many of the the emphases of Christianity have diverged dramatically from its Jewish roots. Of course, Christianity has since undergone dramatic changes itself, and now the term "Christian" can encompass a wide range of variants, from Roman Catholic, to various orthodox denominations (Greek and Russian, for example), to many Protestant denominations (Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, etc.), to non-denominational Protestant congregations. Additionally, there have been a number of more particularly modified offshoot versions of Christianity, such as Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Of course, Judaisim hasn't remained unchanged during this period of time, either. There are quite a few variants of Jewish belief; the most notable are the three largest streams: Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism (which is also called Progressive or Liberal Judaism). There are subsets of these main streams as well, such as Chassidic Orthodox Jews. Within Reform Jewish communities, you can find great variations in styles of temple services.

Thus, the "separating lines" were somewhat blurry to begin with, and some aspects have gotten fuzzier over time.
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