In 1947 a Bedouin shepherd discovered a cave in the Judean Wilderness containing ancient scrolls which were older than 2,000 years. In the years to follow ten more caves and hundreds more scrolls were found. What are these scrolls and what significance and value do they have for understanding Judaism and Christianity?
This examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls takes as its primary focus the many perplexing issues and questions to have arisen since their initial discovery in 1947. Concentrating on those scrolls coming from eleven caves in the vicinity of Khirbet Qumran, it addresses their significance for our understanding of the social, cultural, political and religious diversity of the Second Temple period. In doing so, it endeavours to shed light upon such topics as: the discovery and publication of the scrolls; their historical and archaeological context; the content of the manuscripts; their relation to biblical texts and known apocryphal/pseudepigraphal literature; the community behind the texts; the relationship with early Christianity; and the modern impact and reception of the discovery within both academia and popular culture.
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Matthew A. Collins is Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Chester, UK, and author of The Use of Sobriquets in the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls (LSTS 67; T&T Clark, 2009).
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