The Dead Sea Scrolls, in the narrow sense of Qumran Caves Scrolls, are a collection of some 981 different texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 in eleven caves in the immediate vicinity of the ancient settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank. The caves are located about two kilometres (1.2 miles) inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name.
The consensus is that the Qumran Caves Scrolls date from the last three centuries BCE and the first centuryCE. Bronze coins found at the same sites form a series beginning with John Hyrcanus (135–104 BCE) and continuing until the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), supporting the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls. Manuscripts from additional Judean desert sites go back as far as the eighth century BCE to as late as the 11th century CE.
The texts are of great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the third oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon, along with deuterocanonicaland extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. Biblical text older than the Dead Sea Scrolls has been discovered only in two silver scroll-shaped amulets containing portions of the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers, excavated in Jerusalem at Ketef Hinnom and dated c. 600 BCE. A burnt piece of Leviticus dating from the 6th century CE analyzed in 2015 was found to be the fourth-oldest piece of the Torah known to exist.
Most of the texts are written in Hebrew, with some in Aramaic (in different regional dialects, includingNabataean), and a few in Greek. If discoveries from the Judean desert are included, Latin (from Masada) and Arabic (from Khirbet al-Mird) can be added. Most texts are written on parchment, some on papyrus and one on copper.
The scrolls have traditionally been identified with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this association and argue that the scrolls were penned by priests in Jerusalem, Zadokites or other unknown Jewish groups.
Due to the poor condition of some of the scrolls, not all of them have been identified. Those that have been identified can be divided into three general groups:
- some 40% of them are copies of texts from the Hebrew Scriptures,
- approximately another 30% of them are texts from the Second Temple Period which ultimately were not canonized in the Hebrew Bible, like the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Tobit, the Wisdom of Sirach, Psalms 152–155, etc., and
- the remaining roughly 30% of them are sectarian manuscripts of previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group (sect) or groups within greater Judaism, like the Community Rule, the War Scroll, the Pesher on Habakkuk and The Rule of the Blessing.
Titus Flavius Josephus (/dʒoʊˈsiːfəs/; 37 – c. 100), born Joseph ben Matityahu (Hebrew: יוסף בן מתתיהו, Yosef ben Matityahu; Greek: Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου), was a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer, who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.
He initially fought against the Romans during the First Jewish–Roman War as head of Jewish forces in Galilee, until surrendering in 67 CE to Roman forces led by Vespasian after the six-week siege of Jotapata. Josephus claimed the Jewish Messianic propheciesthat initiated the First Roman-Jewish War made reference to Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome. In response Vespasian decided to keep Josephus as a slave and interpreter. After Vespasian became Emperor in 69 CE, he granted Josephus his freedom, at which time Josephus assumed the emperor’s family name of Flavius.
Flavius Josephus fully defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman citizenship. He became an advisor and friend of Vespasian’s son Titus, serving as his translator when Titus led the Siege of Jerusalem, which resulted—when the Jewish revolt did not surrender—in the city’s destruction and the looting and destruction of Herod’s Temple (Second Temple).
Josephus recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the first century CE and the First Jewish–Roman War, including theSiege of Masada. His most important works were The Jewish War (c. 75) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94). The Jewish Warrecounts the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation (66–70). Antiquities of the Jews recounts the history of the world from a Jewish perspective for an ostensibly Roman audience. These works provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of Early Christianity. (See main article Josephus on Jesus).
In Caesar’s Messiah, Joseph Atwill showed that the Flavian Caesars, Vespasian and Titus, invented Christianity, more or less in the form we know it today. Remarkably, the emperors left behind a veiled confession (or boast) of their work, embedded in the Gospels and the works of Josephus. The religion was invented as wartime propaganda, primarily targeted at Hellenistic Jews of the Diaspora, and also at the Gentiles (who were being approached by Jewish evangelists.) This covert act of psychological warfare was successful beyond the Romans’ wildest dreams: even today, the dominant view is that Christianity arose in humble circumstances, and grew to massive proportions while being driven by a variety of philosophical and religious trends, if not by God himself.
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Events, persons, or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament. For example, Jonah may be seen as the type of Christ in that he emerged from the fish’s belly and thus appeared to rise from death. In the fullest version of the theory of typology, the whole purpose of the Old Testament is viewed as merely the provision of types for Christ, the antitype or fulfillment. The theory began in the Early Church, was at its most influential in the High Middle Ages, and continued to be popular, especially in Calvinism, after the Protestant Reformation, but in subsequent periods has been given less emphasis. One exception to this is the Christian Brethren of the 19th and 20th centuries, where typology was much favoured and the subject of numerous books. Notably, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, typology is still a common and frequent exegetical tool, mainly due to that church’s great emphasis on continuity in doctrinal presentation through all historical periods. Typology was frequently used in early Christian art, where type and antitype would be depicted in contrasting positions. The usage of the terminology has expanded into the secular sphere; for example, “Geoffrey de Montbray (d.1093), Bishop of Coutances, a right-hand man of William the Conqueror, was a type of the great feudal prelate, warrior and administrator”.
Published on Nov 19, 2012
The authors of Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, acclaimed essayist Adina Hoffman and the MacArthur Foundation Award-winning poet and translator Peter Cole, tell the story of the recovery from a Cairo genizah (a repository for sacred texts) of the most vital cache of Hebrew manuscripts ever discovered, a story of buried scholarly treasure that rivals in drama, scope, and importance the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and sheds profound light on 900 years of Jewish life.