Many people have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but few know what they are or the significance they have for people today. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it gives us an opportunity to ask what are these scrolls and why they should matter to anyone.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 and consist of 900 plus copies of Jewish manuscripts of biblical books, sectarian compositions, and other writings. Several of these scrolls are thought to belong to a Jewish sect or school of philosophy called the “Essenes” who lived two thousand years ago. Some of these Essenes once resided at the site now called the ruins of (khirbet) Qumran, close to the location of the eleven caves where scrolls were found. Recently, there was an announcement of the discovery of the “12th Dead Sea Scrolls cave”, but the evidence of an uninscribed scroll fragment, linen wrappings, and pottery shards found in the cave is insufficient to support the claim.