Questions about the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Jerusalem Post website has posted the cover article of the most recent Jerusalem Report.  The article is called “The Qumran Quandary.”   It is a good summary of the questions still open about the Dead Sea Scrolls and their authors:

  • Were they or weren’t they Essenes?
  • Were women part of the sect’s community?
  • How did such a small sect produce so many scrolls?
  • What is the significance of the newly rediscovered “Messiah Tablet”?

The article focuses on the relationship between textual studies of the scrolls and archaeological research at Qumran.  Well worth reading.

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One Comment on “Questions about the Dead Sea Scrolls”

  1. Peter Kaufman Says:

    Thanks for pointing me towards this.

    There is another “question still open” about the scrolls, namely whether anybody living at Qumran, let alone the “community” of a “sect,” had anything to do with writing them at all. See the official Magen and Peleg report (concluding that Qumran was a fortress and pottery factory and that the scrolls came from the Jerusalem area) on the Israel Antiquities Authority website at http://www.antiquities.org.il/images/shop/jsp/JSP6_Qumran_color.pdf

    Why weren’t Magen and Peleg, two of Israel’s most prominent archaeologists (appointed by the IAA to direct ten seasons of digs at Qumran), invited to participate in this conference? The Jerusalem Post report seems to be describing a meeting of old-school scrolls scholars, who have for a long time been arguing among themselves about the nature of the “Qumran sect.” The direct and fundamental challenge to the sectarian theory, of Golb, Elior, Magen and Peleg, Hirschfeld, Cansdale, Zangenberg, Kinglhart, Galor, and other similar scholars, always seems to be neatly excluded. Why?

    For some insight into the contradictions the traditional Qumranologists find themselves in when they try coming up with modified versions of the “sectarian” theory, see Golb’s Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?, pp. 212-215 (discussing Lawrence Schiffman’s incoherent “Sadducee” arguments, and quoting British scholls scholar Phillip Davies’ statement that they are “not only difficult to accept, but difficult to comprehend”).


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