Concise Lexicon of Christianity

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Teachings, worship, rites, sermons, and terminology

What about the Dead Sea Scrolls?

There is a vast literature on this topic, some of which is sensational and has to be taken with a grain of salt. Here is a brief summary:

The Dead Sea scrolls were the library of a previously unknown first-century Jewish sect. They were stored in caves near the community of Qumran for safekeeping in the face of advancing Roman troops in about AD 70. The community was completely destroyed, no one returned, and the caves and scrolls were forgotten until they were discovered by accident in 1948. They contain the text of most of the Old Testament and the rules and regulations of the community at Qumran. The Old Testament text from Qumran is 900 years older than any previous copy of the Old Testament, and it is virtually identical. This vindicates the textual integrity of the Old Testament for an additional 1,000 years and probably farther. There has been some speculation about a possible connection between Qumran and Jesus, some of which is sensationalistic and must be discounted.

Two people, Carsten Thiedes, a respected papyrologist, and Father José O’Callahan, a Roman Catholic priest, made discoveries among the documents from Qumran that may be fragments of canonical Christian gospels, which, if verified and accepted, would push back the dating of the New Testament to the first decades after the Crucifixion. This would tend to refute the view that Paul invented traditional Christology.