The Dead Sea Scrolls
Between the years 1947 and 1956, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 11 caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Although caves one and eleven produced relatively intact manuscripts, the rest scrolls were mostly just fragmented texts and are numbered according to the cave they came out of (1-11). About 15,000 fragments from more than 500 manuscripts were found. The discovery of these scrolls are considered the greatest archaeological event of the twentieth century.
Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in pottery jars of this type. The fact that this type of jar was only found in the caves and in the settlement at Qumran would seem to be evidence that the Scrolls and the Qumran community are tied together. For over 2,000 years, the Scrolls were preserved in a relatively stable environment: the caves of the Judean Desert. The Scrolls can be divided into two categories—biblical and non-biblical. Fragments of every book of the Hebrew Bible (except the Book of Esther) were found in the Qumran caves, which was the most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls sites. The identified books are 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms. The Dead Sea Scrolls enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity. They represent a non-rabbinic form of Judaism and provide a wealth of comparative material for New Testament scholars.