The Dead Sea ScrollsDiscovered by bedouin shepherds in cliff caves above the shore of the Dead Sea, these scrolls are internationally recognized as essential reading in the attempt to understand Jesus as a human being in his own time. The scrolls date to Jesus' time and the period shortly before. But they speak to us across two thousand years revealing much about early Christianity and its roots in ancient Judaism. Here are selected readings.
This is the introduction from noted scholar Hershel Shanks' new book (April 1998). It is an illuminating and readable background summary on the discovery of these scrolls and what it meant to scholars. Shanks also presents a cogent overview of the world implicitly addressed by the Dead Sea Scrolls, the period 332 B.C. - 70 A.D.
Here is a view into the community of the separatist Jewish sect, the Essenes, who are generally recognized as the authors of the the Dead Sea Scrolls. "The Community Rule" details the rules and regulations of this community and offers a glimpse into the diversity of Judaism at the time of Jesus.
This section of the scrolls presents the Essenes' apocalyptic vision of the final battle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. This kind of apocalyptic sensibility was a discernible strain of Jewish thought at the time of Jesus; some scholars detect this sensibility in Jesus' message about the coming Kingdom of God.