Dead Sea Scrolls

by DevonMcBride 9 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • DevonMcBride

    What is the Watchtower's teachings regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls? I can't seem to find anything on it in their publications.

  • gumby

    Hi Devon M

    I don't know what happened to the board all the sudden but nobody seems to be in the mood to talk about anything but goes through stages.

    The society has always seen the Dead Sea Scrolls as proof the Bible record is accurate. I don't have the time right now but looking up the subject in ANY of their indexes should give you what you need.

  • Tyler_Durden

    hi there Devon

    the WTBTS is pretty cool about the Scrolls, they accept the historical importance + accuracy of the documents.

    every few years there'd be an article in the WT or Awake on the likelihood of John the Baptist being a member of the Essenes (the group who wrote + preserved the Scrolls)... not a chance was always the answer!

    no idea what the Isaiah book (currently being studied) says on the Scrolls, I'm guessing it's exceptionally favourable towards them as the Isaiah Scroll verifys the authenticity of the Book of Isaiah!!


  • DevonMcBride

    I am in the process of reading a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls. What I find interesting is that the WT accepts them. According to these scrolls, Jesus was part of the Essenes tribe. The Essenes tribe was known to practice the Kabbalah - Jewish mysticism. Wouldn't that be contradictory to the WT's teachings?

  • Gamaliel

    I am in the process of reading a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls. What I find interesting is that the WT accepts them. According to these scrolls, Jesus was part of the Essenes tribe. The Essenes tribe was known to practice the Kabbalah - Jewish mysticism. Wouldn't that be contradictory to the WT's teachings?


    This is a subject I've discussed for years on the ANE forum. (Ancient Near East.) I just love discussions of that time period, so I'll have to stop myself when I go overtime here.

    The WT can accept the the scrolls (DSS), because there is nothing in them about Jesus being part of the Essene tribe. There is nothing about Jesus in them. Also there is no specific connection between the Essenes and the practice of Kabbalah. For that matter, there is no necessary connection between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes, either. In fact there is not necessarily any connection between the Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity - though I believe there is a small one. If the book calls the Essenes a tribe, there's another reason to dismiss it. (Essenes more likely took in people from unrelated families, just as some Catholic monestaries took in "trainees.") In fact, if the book says anything about the DSS that you've said above, then the book doesn't sound useful or truthful.

    That said, there is a great deal of information in the DSS that sheds light on what a certain Jewish messianic group would have thought about the world, mainstream Judaism or other Jewish groups. More important is what the writings reveal about the way they thought about the Bible through their commentary methods. Any of those contributions alone would make them quite valuable for studying the world and thinking that also influenced Christianity. Josephus and Philo (Jewish writers who were contemporaries of Christian Bible writers) had already highlighted the importance of the Essenes, yet we had no physical evidence from them for 2000 years. To Josephus, the Essenes were on par with the Pharisees and Sadducees. It was tempting, therefore, to attach this discovery of the DSS to Essenes. Today, however, there is even talk among a few scholars that the DSS were just as representative of ideas coming from Jerusalem's mainstream Temple Judaism, but which seem so foreign to what we now think about 1st century Temple Judaism that we need to assign the DSS to a "cult" status.

    Also, their location and some of their beliefs made it tempting to believe John the Baptist may very well have been, not an Essene necessarily, but a member of the DSS group whose writings are represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls may have nothing to do with the buildings found nearby the caves where the scrolls were found. Even if they did, scholars are now believed to have been much too anxious to read into those Qumram buildings whatever they needed to associate the scrolls with Essenes. Those early diggers would have been ready to see an Essene monestary in a Roman fort. Any physical connection to Essene life is now dismissed by many, if not the majority of, new DSS scholars.

    I believe there is a very high probability of a connection between early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is hardly the direct type of connection that a lot of writer's try to pull off to sell a book, though. Paul's Gentile Christianity renders most of those early connections moot today. But they might shed light on some quotes and ideas here and there. I believe there is evidence that there was once a stronger relationship between at least one early version of Jewish Christianity and the religion of John the Baptist. The people behind the DSS were more likely a messianic cult that had similarities and differences between themselves and a lot of other messianic cults (like Christianity must have appeared). No doubt, from our own historical perspective, the similarities seem greater to us, but among themselves, they must have seen their differences as greater.

    Whoops, I see I went over by about 20 minutes.


    Edited by - Gamaliel on 29 December 2002 23:33:9

  • onacruse

    Gamaliel, thanks for your informative, even if horridly prolonged () post.

    I've had Millar Burrows The Dead Sea Scrolls (1956) in my library for many years, but have yet to read more than a snippet here and there. So much has been done since then, I wonder, is it still a good resource?

    gumby, quite frankly, if I had the time to do unlimited postings all day every day, I know I couldn't keep up with all the heavy stuff on this board. Talk about a feast, eh? Sometimes the fluff is just a good way to loosen up the gears, imho.


  • Gamaliel


    I have Burrows book right here in front of me as I type this. Burrows book is full of valuable insights, despite its age. A lot has come out since then, but then, a lot more unscrupulous authors have come out since then, too.


  • rocky220

    I seem to remember seeing a documentary on the Discovery Channel about the Dead Sea scrolls, and how there was contraversy around a scroll relating the true events of the death of Jesus, how he really didn't die on the cross but that was given a "drink" while on the cross made of herbs to fake death, the while in the tomb was given an antidote to revive him.Being in such a weakened state he was hidden in a monastery under an assumed name to protect him from further persecution....but that later was able to spread further his ministry on earth and die of old age.....This stuff is so heavy that I dont wonder why no re-broadcast was given!...VHS' were offered at the time but I dont think the Powerful Christian Religions, Vatican, etc..would allow much publicity to go on and would have done everything in their power to cover it up!!!!! Just one of those things the "Powerful" religious institutions are good at....and you know what I mean.....rocky220

  • MrMoe

    I don't have a vast knowledge of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I do know that the WTBTS states these ancient writings present themselves as viable proof the bible is real, as they were preserved for so long. Pathetic evidence at best.

    Here is an interesting link... it doesn't discuss the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I hope you find it interesting.

  • SwedishChef

    I missed the part where the evidence is pathetic.

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