Today I had the opportunity to see the real Dead Sea Scrolls. These absolutely incredible pieces of parchment provide a viable defense of the Old Testament scriptures of the bible. The only Book missing from the Dead Sea Scrolls is Ester. The Essenes, who wrote these documents, did not believe Ester to be inspired since Ester does not once mention God or Lord in its text.
Before I begin discussing the incredible impact that these scrolls hold for Christianity I want to acknowledge the writers. When we see people that are radical, that are extreme beyond measure, or that are just outright different we tend to just say, “oh those guys are wackos!!” or “What stupid beliefs!” or “What reason do they have to act that way?!” The Essenes were the radical people of their time from 150 BC to 70 AD. Many of the Essenes were celibates (for those who don’t know, that means they didn’t get married or have sex). These people were devoted to a lifestyle of abstinence of worldly things to the point of having no money and no property. Yes these people were homeless. These people would start their morning with a ritual cleansing, they devoted themselves to charity, they were completely benevolent, and they studied and studied the books of the elders.
What we have in our Bible today is almost identical to what is written in the Dead Sea Scrolls. the finding of these Scrolls could have changed everything. Our Bibles could have been so terribly translated and the transcription so horrific, that an entire reformation would have had to occur in Christianity. These Scrolls prove the legitimacy of nearly perfect transcription from years and years of copying. Before these scrolls we had many manuscripts but none that were full. We had the Masoretic text and the Aleppo Codex, which the Masorites used in their transcription of the Old Testament Scriptures. These texts both date to the 10th Century AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls Date from 150 BC to 70 AD. When we put the Masoretic text right next to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are more than a Millennium older, we see hardly any differences in the text.
Have you ever played that game where you sit in a circle and started out with a sentence, and whispered it in your neighbors ear, then your neighbor did the same to his neighbor? Once you get all the way around a sentence that went, “Ralph ate the turkey that Denny shot in the woods” to “My pal Debated at Berkley in Grannys hot hood.” It is almost impossible to get around the circle without the sentence changing in a drastic and often humorous way.
Obviously that isn’t the best analogy since the text we have wasn’t subject to only Oral Tradition but much and much written copying. However my meaning remains the same. It is only by God’s sovereignty that these texts have not changed. It is only by God’s molding, like the Potter molded during Jeremiah’s time, that what our Bible contains is more than 99% reliable (just a random number. Im not making a statement).
My Personal Application to this is complete awe. When I stepped inside the area where most of the “Dead Sea Scrolls” are kept I could feel the Presence of God. Many of the original Scrolls where inside glass and we could look at them. I was looking at texts that were over 2000 years old. OVER 2000 YEARS OLD. Name something off the top of your head that is over 2000 years old that you have seen. And then to add on top of that, these 2000 Year old Scrolls prove the Old Testaments Legitimacy.
These Scrolls were found in 1947, which is one year before the State of Israel was declared as a nation. Ironically this is right around the time when Skepticism of the transcription of the Bible was very high. These Scrolls “bust a cap” in that skepticism. I think it is absolutely incredible that God would release these documents at this time.
One more interesting fact before I finish. Papyrus, which had been used to write on for centuries had gone out of style. Writing on Papyrus would be like owning and typing on an ipad 1, or fat Dell Laptop from 2005. Parchment had just been invited in 200 BC and these Essenes who had no money and no property owned the latest piece of writing technology available and it is because of that Parchment and the preservation of the texts in Pottery that the Dead Sea Scrolls are still readable today.
Thank you for reading. Im trying to keep this short so as not to overwhelm or discourage people from reading but my mind is exploding with information.
God Bless, Nick Ayers