Thursday, March 21, 2013

Scroll Time...as in Dead Sea

I've always been curious about ancient history, and one area that is interesting to me is early religious and historical writings. The Dead Sea Scrolls are one subject that is intriguing. It is somewhat difficult to slog through the translations especially if they have blank spaces and fragmented bits of translations. Learning about the history and the overarching meanings in the scrolls though, is agreeably interesting.

I've read a few books, perused translations and tried to learn about the history surrounding the area and the people involved. My intent here is not to give a comprehensive history of the scrolls, there are numerous places to learn that, be it through books or the internet. I'd just like to give highlights from my study of the scrolls that are particularly interesting. Any fan of Dr. Hugh Nibley will know that a lot can be learned from his writings about the subject of ancient history, including the scrolls, other useful author's I have read and enjoyed on the subject include Vernon W. Mattson, Jr. and Giza Vermes, to name just a few.



Seven large scrolls were found in cave #1:

  1. The Isaiah Scroll, a complete copy of Isaiah from the Old Testament
  2. Another (poorly preserved) Isaiah Scroll, which is close to the Masoritic text
  3. The Habakkuk Commentary
  4. The Manual of Discipline
  5. Thanksgiving Hymns
  6. The War Scroll "The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness"
  7. The Genesis Apocryphon (or Lamach Scroll) in Aramaic, mentioning Noah, Abraham, and Sarah (compare Genesis chapters 12-15 of the Old Testament) this scroll also contains extra Biblical material.

All of the books of the Old Testament except Esther are represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

-What is the Masoritic Text? It is the authorative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible.

-Who was Habakkuk? A Hebrew Prophet believed to have lived in Jerusalem around approximately 612 BC.

-What is the Manual of Discipline? It is an important document (also called the Rule of Community) that was produced by the Jewish Essene community that settled in Qumran around 200 BC. They believed Jerusalem was corrupt and wanted to remove themselves from it. The manual explains religious and moral ideals believed by the community.

-What is the The War Scroll? Prophecies of a war between light and darkness, good and evil. In the end darkness is destroyed. Divine intervention finally wins the battle. Armaments, war banners, and the equipment of warfare are also mentioned. Some scholars say the descriptions are similar to Roman warfare methods.

Explain Lamech and Aramaic: When the scrolls were found Lamech's name was seen as mentioned so it was thought this scroll was some writings of Lamech. It was a very delicate scroll and it is said it took seven years to unroll it. This scroll's name was changed to The Genesis Apocryphon after it was translated because it talks about the journeys of Abraham the Prophet, about his wife Sarah, and tells of the birth of Noah. It is compared to Genesis chapters 12 to 15 of the Old Testament but also has some additional material in it.

John 3:16 in Aramaic
Aramaic is a dialect of the Semitic language family which also consists of Hebrew and Phoenician. Aramaic script is believed to be the precursor to the modern Arabic and Hebrew alphabets.

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