The Dead Sea Scrolls constitute a remarkable archaeological discovery that has transformed our knowledge of the biblical world. They are a corpus of ancient manuscripts that were preserved in caves near the Dead Sea for millennia. They attest to the religious and cultural diversity of Judaism in the Second Temple period, as well as its interactions and conflicts with early Christianity.
The scrolls were found by chance in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd who entered a cave containing clay jars with scrolls inside. Subsequent explorations revealed 11 caves with more than 900 scrolls dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE. The scrolls include copies of books from the Hebrew Bible, apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works, sectarian documents, and original compositions.
These texts reflect the varied beliefs and practices of different Jewish groups and movements, such as the Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots. They also provide valuable insights into the historical and cultural context of early Christianity and its relationship with Judaism. The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time and have revolutionized our understanding of the biblical world.