7th February 1947. The Source of Controversy.
The Dead Sea Scrolls pre-date the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in AD/CE 70 and the death of Jesus, traditionally said to be 37 years’ before.
Not surprisingly, the translations, have over the years caused much controversy, with Catholic Church scholars doing all they could to hide or under-play anything implying any suggestion that the life of Jesus and the New Testament merely replicated the writings of the Essenes.
It was Today in 1947 that The Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered, to be identified by scholars as the work of an ascetic, messianic, Jewish sect, the Essenes.
The Scrolls cover the whole of what we know as the Old Testament, the Old Covenant, but it requires little imagination to see the teachings of this sect as the basis on which the New Covenant, New Testament writers were later to lay the foundations for what was to become Christianity.(1)
Their importance as a basis for the theology of Christianity, which along the way added its supernatural elements, is significant when we consider it comprised the woof and weft of the British culture and belief, for 2,000 years.
The Scrolls are a group of Hebrew and Aramaic manuscript (MS) scrolls originally stored in jars in eleven caves, others were found in 1950, and probably formed the library of a Jewish community.(2)
The Essenes (c 200 BC/BCE-68 AD/CE) were mentioned by many sources including that of the the Roman Jew Flavius Josephus, but not in early New Testament writings, was a strict Torah (written law), messianic, apocalyptic, baptist, new covenant, Jewish sect.
The sect had rituals of sharing of wine and baptism 200 years’ before Jesus and John the Baptist and mentions a ‘Teacher of Righteousness’, who was opposed and probably killed by the established priesthood in Jerusalem.
We don’t have any similar original documents of the New Testament, which must have deteriorated centuries ago even if they existed. We do have copies though, meticulously copied by hand by monks, until the presses William Caxton arrived.
(1) The 981 Texts were discovered over a period from 1947 to 1956 and were written on animal skin, papyrus and copper.
(2) There were three major Jewish Sects: Pharisees, Sadducees and the Essenes, all having ideas which later became part of Christian faith.
Ref: Christianity Today.
Ref: wikipedia.org/dead_sea_scrolls. Also Pic. ref.