Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible - Fort Worth, Texas Exhibition

About the Scroll Fragments

About the Scroll Fragments

What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
First discovered in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of ancient biblical and non-biblical manuscripts.

How many scrolls were found?
More than 100,000 fragments of 1,350 original scrolls were located.

How old are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The Dead Sea Scrolls date back as early as 250 B.C., but most of them date to about A.D. 50–100. The scrolls include the oldest-known copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible except Esther, as well as extra-biblical texts ranging from prayers to commentaries to hymns.

Why are the Dead Sea Scrolls important?
The Dead Sea Scrolls are widely acknowledged to be the greatest manuscript discovery of the 20th century. They include fragments of 300 biblical manuscripts and are more than 1,000 years older than any previously known copies of the complete Hebrew Bible. These archaeological treasures link us to the Near East and reveal the formative years of Judaism and Christianity. There also are sectarian Scrolls, which appear to represent a distinct form of Judaism that vanished after the Roman destruction of the second Temple in 70 A.D. The manuscripts provide context for the cultures that gave birth to the Bible, including Judaism and the world's largest religion—Christianity.

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Most scholars believe the scrolls were copied and composed by the Essenes, a sect of Jews who chose to live a communal life in the Qumran desert. However, some scholars suggest that at least a portion of the manuscripts were written in Jerusalem or elsewhere and later brought to the caves when the Roman army threatened the city.

In what languages were the Dead Sea Scrolls written?
Most are in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

What kind of texts are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Both biblical and non-biblical texts are among the scroll fragments.

  • Biblical fragments represent approximately 300 original scrolls. These biblical texts demonstrate how the Old Testament was passed along faithfully from generation to generation.
  • Non-biblical fragments represent texts considered by some to be apocryphal and pseudepigraphical. They also contain sectarian texts, which include commentaries, legal documents, prayers, hymns, and apocalyptic works. Some had not been known or had been rarely seen.
  • Sectarian manuscripts include non-biblical texts such as commentaries, legal writings, prayers and hymns, and apocalyptic works.

On what were the scrolls written?
Most scrolls were made of parchment produced from animal skins. Some texts are written on papyrus or paper made from the papyrus plant. One rare scroll, known as the Copper Scroll, is inscribed on copper.

The black ink was iron-gall ink, made by crushing tree galls (abnormal growths on a tree’s leaves and stems) to get gallic acid, which was mixed with water, vitriol (iron sulfate), and gum arabic. The red ink was cinnabar, a bright red mineral consisting of mercury sulfide.

Why were the Dead Sea Scrolls hidden?
The scrolls were probably left behind when those using them fled or were killed. This fleeing was probably from the Romans at Qumran and Masada. In other locations such as Wadi Murabba’at and Nahal Hever the scrolls were probably left there simply because the people were killed.

Where are the Dead Sea Scrolls now?
Most scroll fragments are in storage in Jerusalem, Israel, and in Amman, Jordan. Other collections are in Paris, Oslo, Zurich, and in several places in the United States. Southwestern’s collection is the largest in the United States.

Why is an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls important?
The Dead Sea Scrolls have revolutionized the study of Christianity, Judaism and the Bible. The scrolls are authentic and reliable, and Southwestern Seminary’s exhibition will be meaningful to anyone interested in ancient history, archaeology, the Bible, and religion.

But, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered 65 years ago. Why should I care about a new exhibition of old discoveries?
Actually, thanks to new technology, scientists are still making new discoveries about the scrolls—including where they came from and who wrote them.

This is also the world’s first—and perhaps only—chance to see certain scroll fragments. Several scroll fragments in this exhibition, including the large Genesis fragment, have been in private collections since their discovery and have never before been on public display.