Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Tell Us Anything About Jesus?

The Dead Sea Scrolls, an unknown number of ancient Jewish texts discovered near the Dead Sea beginning in 1947, were preserved by a group of Jews who did not accept Jesus’ call to “repent” and “believe” the “good news” (Mark 1:15). Despite sensational claims, the scrolls do not contain any references to Jesus Christ or his disciples. However, they are important for several reasons including the significant help they provide scholars in their effort to reconstruct the world of Jesus since they provide an important window into the world of Jewish-Palestine of the first century BC and first century AD.

“The Dead Sea Scrolls probably constitute the single most important biblically related literary discovery of the twentieth century. The Scrolls have contributed significantly to biblical scholarship in several fields: (1) the study of ancient writing and making of books/scrolls; (2) textual criticism of the OT; (3) linguistic studies in Hebrew and Aramaic; (4) apocryphal and pseudepigraphal studies; (5) the study of sects and groups, particularly the Essenes, within Palestinian Jewry; (6) ancient methods of biblical interpretation; (7) intertestamental history; (8) first-century doctrines and religious ideas; and (9) NT background studies.”

Craig A. Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Craig A. Evans, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 80-81