So who were these people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? The belief and lineage of the "Dead Sea sect", as it is often called, has been debated, but many believe they were a group of Jewish ascetics known as the Essenes. This group was described by Pliny the Elder as those who lived near the Dead Sea, did not marry, had no money, and renounced all pleasures. Devoting their lives to preserving the Jewish Bible, the Essenes were considered an apocalyptic sect preparing for a rapture-like Day of Judgment, when their righteous lifestyle would lead to salvation.
Qumran, home of the Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls
There was endless debate about who the Essenes really were. Some have pointed out that its location would make the perfect center for commerce, 13 miles from Jerusalem and only a few hours from Jericho.
Although Pliny the Elder's description is the most quoted, it seems to contain some contradictions, and others have pointed out that the people who inhabited the Qumran plateau were a prosperous culture for many generations. The Essenes were probably a small branch of this Qumran population steeped in the mysticism of a newly formed sect.
This faction was probably not popular with the main sects of Judaism. These people were led by someone they called the Master of Justice, a being who bore an uncanny resemblance to Jesus.
Cover of the Dead Sea Scroll
After the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a team of archaeologists and scholars with a working knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek took it upon themselves to piece together the fragments of the scrolls and decipher their texts. One such scholar was John Marco Allegro, a former Methodist Ministry student who abandoned his studies of Christianity to pursue philology and archaeology. Allegro was the only member of his team who was an agnostic, while the rest of the group consisted of Christian scholars. Not surprisingly, Allegro's interpretation gave a secular perspective to what the Dead Sea Scrolls may have suggested.
Allegro worked quickly to release his interpretation of his segment and make it available to the public as soon as possible. In the early 1960s, he completed his findings and submitted them to scientific journals. However, his colleagues did not publish his findings until the early 1990s, more than 40 years after the scrolls were discovered.
What were the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls that prevented them from publishing their translations and discoveries for so many years? Were there any revealing discoveries that you or your respective religious authorities wished to keep secret?
It is quite clear that Allegro's interpretation of the scrolls was certainly one that the church wished to conceal if any veracity was found. He postulated that the Essenes were in fact a group of Jewish Gnostics whose writings, on which the Bible is based, were known to be allegorical and mythological.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
These texts were also written in Hebrew and Aramaic, from where they were translated into the Greek language then in use, leaving many opportunities for misinterpretation and mistranslation. Some words in Hebrew and Aramaic may look almost identical but have very different meanings.an example forIt is the Hebrew word 'imerah, which means word, and the Aramaic, 'imera, which means lamb.
In addition to these nuances, religious scribes of the day often used this hybrid of Hebrew and Aramaic for ambiguity and puns.
In these ancient Semitic writings, vowels were omitted and only consonants were written, so the meaning of a word was based on context. This made words have multiple meanings, allowing for another level of wordplay that was widely seen.
Dead Sea Scrolls Conspiracy
Several similarities between Essene mysticism and the Christ story confound scholars of the Scrolls. The use of the term "Son of God" has been found to be in use long before the time Christ is said to have lived and was often used in the image of the Essenes. There is also talk of a Council of Twelve, of a common meal, of baptisms, of cures and of the coming of a Messiah; all analogous to the story of Jesus.
Flavius Josephus, a prominent Jewish-Roman historian of the time,He wrote about the Essenes.Josephus describes the Essenes as one of the three sects of Judaism, which appears to be an amalgamation of other descriptions of them: they were celibate, apolitical mystics, and ascetics similar to those who lived in the Qumran caves; or they were revolutionaries, some were married and some lived in Jerusalem.
The other two sects of Judaism that Flavio writes about were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Essenes were known to have arisen out of a dislike for these two other sects. Interestingly, the Pharisees and Sadducees are mentioned in the New Testament and are mentioned as being in constant conflict with Jesus.
Despite strong documentation of this third sect, dating from the 2nd century B.C. BC and the first century AD, it is never mentioned in the New Testament. This has led some to believe that the Essenes were a Jewish sect whose history has been misinterpreted and later became known as Christians.
Shrine of the Book, Jerusalem
The master of justice. Jesus?
The Essene writings mention a "teacher of justice" who may have been Jesus. This teacher fits into a messianic prophecy or construction similar to what Jesus did in the Bible. This was another archetypal story found as a recurring pattern in Essene writing.
Allegro referred to heras a well-defined pre-existing pattern adopted by the Church for its Davidic Messiah. This pattern contained familiar themes such as the crucifixion, the resurrection, and a savior of Israel, and was probably a repeating allegorical story.These texts may have later been misinterpreted as an event that actually took place, rather than a general narrative. The story of a messiah, martyrs and miracles spread like wildfire. Allegro said that he believes that this story was then institutionalized and used as a method to effectively control believers. The notion that man could be absolved of all sin was seductive, since the hierarchy of bishops and priests could be used as a check against the independence of Gnostic sects.
A Radical Theory About “The Body of Christ”
In addition to this idea that the New Testament was a mistranslation of Scripture by a Gnostic sect of Jews, Allegro proposed his own theory, which unsurprisingly drew disbelief from Christian scholars: This Gnostic sect of Jews used to eat psychedelic mushrooms as a sacrament of religious experience. . Allegro postulated that these psychedelic sessions were the origin of the story of "Jesus", also known as the Master of Justice. Allegro found evidence of incantations and chants that he believed were part of a ceremony to collect the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
To confuse the Romans and prevent them from understanding words to which they attributed magical properties, they used a play on words between Hebrew and Aramaic. An example of this is the translation of the first line of the New Testament, "Our Father who art in heaven", which translated into Aramaic means "abracadabra".
Allegro also points to Christianity's obsession with consuming the body of Christ, or becoming one with God by consuming the "body of Christ." Was eating the body eating the mushroom as a sacrament?
After proposing this theory, Allegro lost his job at the university and became an outcast in academia. He was rebuffed for such an absurd theory and for challenging the Church's narrative.
Could Allegro have discovered something? There is much evidence of a potential for misinterpretation of the three languages and puns involved. Is it possible that the founding story of Christianity came from the consumption of psychedelic mushrooms by a Gnostic cult, or that the Essenes were a Jewish sect whose mistranslated story became the New Testament?
What did the Dead Sea Scrolls say about Jesus? ›
Judaism and Christianity
The Dead Sea Scrolls contain nothing about Jesus or the early Christians, but indirectly they help to understand the Jewish world in which Jesus lived and why his message drew followers and opponents.
Jesus is not mentioned in the texts, but as Florida International University scholar Erik Larson has noted, the scrolls have “helped us understand better in what ways Jesus' messages represented ideas that were current in the Judaism of his time and in what ways [they were] distinctive.” One scroll, for example, ...What do Christians think of the Dead Sea Scrolls? ›
The Dead Sea Scrolls have been recognized for generations as one of the most convincing methods of proof of Jesus' existence, both historically and theologically. Because they date back so closely to the time of Christ, they are all the more solidified as honest records of the Hebrew Bible.What did the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us? ›
Along with biblical texts, the scrolls include documents about sectarian regulations, such as the Community Rule, and religious writings that do not appear in the Old Testament.Does Dead Sea Scrolls contradict Bible? ›
No, the Dead Sea Scrolls do not contradict the Bible; in fact, the opposite is the case. Remember: Printing had not been invented in those days. Books therefore had to be laboriously copied by hand, and special precautions had to be taken to prevent errors from creeping in.Do the Dead Sea scrolls mention the Messiah? ›
At Qumran, on the other hand, among the Dead Sea Scrolls, we hear not of just one Messiah, but at least two Messiahs. Some of their writings talk about a Messiah of David that is a kind of kingly figure who will come to lead the war.How accurate is the Bible to the Dead Sea scrolls? ›
The Masoretic manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls are astonishingly similar to the standard Hebrew texts 1,000 years later, proving that Jewish scribes were accurate in preserving and transmitting the Masoretic Scriptures.How did the Dead Sea scrolls change Christianity? ›
Study of the scrolls has enabled scholars to push back the date of a stabilized Hebrew Bible to no later than 70 ce, to help reconstruct the history of Palestine from the 4th century bce to 135 ce, and to cast new light on the emergence of Christianity and of rabbinic Judaism and on the relationship between early ...Do the Dead Sea scrolls support the New Testament? ›
So even though the Dead Sea Scrolls are not Christian texts, they share an assortment of interesting similarities with Christian writings in the New Testament and can be fruitfully employed to better understand the world of Jesus and his earliest Jewish followers.Do the Dead Sea scrolls predate Jesus? ›
The scrolls predate any other Old Testament manuscripts by about 1,000 years.
Were there Gospels in the Dead Sea scrolls? ›
It is worth emphasizing at the start that no New Testament passages occur in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish group that settled at Qumran was not Christian. 3 These are Jewish religious texts collected and studied by certain Jews at the turn of the era.How accurate is the Bible compared to the Dead Sea scrolls? ›
The Masoretic manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls are astonishingly similar to the standard Hebrew texts 1,000 years later, proving that Jewish scribes were accurate in preserving and transmitting the Masoretic Scriptures.