The manuscripts of the Dead Sea, also called Qumran manuscripts, are a series of scrolls and fragments of biblical papyrus found between 1947 and 1956 near the site of Qumran, then Transjordan. The official discovery of these 870 manuscripts – which sometimes only a few fragments – written between the IIIth century BC. AD and Ist century AD. were made in eleven caves where they were stored. Hebrew biblical manuscripts of the Dead Sea are past centuries the oldest known texts previously and are of considerable interest for biblical science. It is now estimated that there were about 850 rolls of which were found more than 15,000 fragments.
From free sample research papers on the topic you may learn that particularly interesting for Christians may be the fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls for the first time allowed to find price estimates parallel to the Christian bliss (Matthew chapter 5, Luke’s Gospel Chapter 6).
In the New Testament we read: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5) In one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QBeat) you can find a text from the same period, with a similar format: “Blessed are the _____ for they shall be _____.” In addition, there are eight individual bliss praises specified; same number as in the New Testament. Some have concluded that this may have been a common way to articulate the values of a religious group, that is, that Jesus and the early Christians used a known format.
Another interesting detail is that in the Greek translation of the Old Testament God’s name YHWH is written in Hebrew characters in the text, something that has been missing in later Greek translations of the Old Testament.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are 2,000 years old (mainly) parchment pieces that require highly specialized conservation techniques if they are to be preserved for the future. Some may, for example, only be exhibited in museums for three months after which they must be kept in complete darkness for a whole year. Some fragments are damaged or darkened so much that special equipment is needed to even see if a text has previously been written on them. Consequently, the Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to all researchers in the original, but must be photographed.
When the scrolls photographed still remains much work. Anyone who reads and understands Hebrew today may not necessarily be able to read the text on the scrolls (which are mainly written in Hebrew but also in Aramaic and Greek). The letters are written in an old way and are sometimes difficult to read. Furthermore, there are sometimes only a few lines or words in the fragments and large gaps or holes may be in the parchment (this due to the parchment rotted for two millennia or otherwise damaged). Someone has to piece together the pieces and fill in the gaps.
Free example research projects on dead sea scrolls is a good way to better understand the topic.
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