First discovered in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are one of the greatest archaeological finds ever made. Despite decades of research there are still a number of questions about the scrolls and their authors which have never been definitively answered. The most interesting and most basic question is: Who wrote the DSS? Were they Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees, another previous unknown sectarian group or none of the above? And what is the relation of the DSS to early Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism, the Second Temple, the Hasmoneans and the revolutionaries of the Jewish war against Rome?
This series will survey the history of the DSS discovery, and what scholars have learned about the identity of the authors and their origins within the context of the history of Judaism in the Second Temple Period. Some of the original texts will be studied to learn about the DSS community and their beliefs. The relationship of the DSS to Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism will also be discussed.
This first lecture will look at the theories of the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jewish sectarianism in the late Second Temple Period.