Did the Dead Sea Scrolls change scripture as it was before the discovery?
Depends on what you mean. If you’re asking whether any translations of Scripture had their wording changed, based on the texts known as the “Dead Sea Scrolls”, then the answer is ‘no’. If you’re asking whether the re-discovery of these scrolls has helped scholars in their studies of Scriptural texts and in the understanding of the development of Scripture, then the answer is ‘yes’.
The dead sea scrolls provided helpful hints to scholars on the meaning of mysterious words found in the codexes. It reinforced what was already there, but to whar extent, that would be a study and a publication that I do not know about.
Funny you should ask that, as I’m currently reading The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Very Short Introduction by Timothy H. Lim (a very nice and concise book BTW). The biblical texts at Qumran did in a sense change how scholars look at the OT and illuminated an important period of history prior to the fixation and standardization of the biblical text. Prior to their discovery scholars had to be content with studying the Hebrew OT from medieval Masoretic manuscripts like the Aleppo and the Leningrad Codices (the Nash Papyrus was the sole exception), but the biblical texts at Qumran, dating a thousand years older, changed all that. Another thing which the DSS shed light on is the multiplicity of text-types and the relative fluid, elastic state the Scriptures were in during that time, way before the proto-Masoretic text was deemed to be the standard text. We often imagine that there is one original text, out of which sprung different textual families, but in the case of the Bible, the reverse seems to have been true: textual pluriformity reigned first. Different texts were in circulation, out of which a single version became the standard.
They also evidenced the accuracy of the bible we read today.
Not really. I think there were references to settling a dispute over how the psalms ought to be numbered (the numbering, of course was added later – but it helped, I think, in determining where a “break” occurred), and there was a bit of a discovery about why certain passages are found in different places in the later scriptures; eg: vellum was expensive, and a sheepskin had a length depending on the particular sheep who was slaughtered – no matter what one was trying to write on it, not to mention handwriting size;
Hence, scribes would move sections, or re-arrange them so that the skin was fully used and redundancy sometimes removed. etc. It’s fairly predictable why this happened once it was noticed how the skins ended, and the order they were written in. That’s something very useful – the writings were a cohesive set…
But: What the DSS really gives us insight into is the way people thought and lived at the time; For example, they speak about the Spirit being in the Blood – and so the scripture reference to the Life being in the blood starts to make sense in a whole new way; When one exercises, the blood flows faster – and somehow they knew that the air was in the blood by association.
Another very interesting point is that clay or slip, (slime of the earth), was equated with seminal fluid. So I can infer that when scripture talks about God being the potter, or God forming a child in the depths of the earth (or the womb) – they were thinking about it quite literally. Man is slime, transformed into flesh – and this is repeated at every sexual reproduction cycle since the formation of Adam from the slime of the Ground.
These kinds of information are very helpful in understanding the common ways of thinking that the scripture writers took for granted – but which we today often overlook, or simply don’t understand. I find some of these trivia very helpful in discovering how to interpret various bible passages which are obscure, mystical, and dramatic in a variety of ways.
Shalom. Your brother in Christ, Jesus.
I’m a bit curious. In which document could this be found?
I believe most surprising references are in the rules of the community; and then there is a commentary on scripture – but it has been about 5 years since I read it. If the text is included in the online resource, I’ll see if I can find them sometime soon, if not – I’ll go back to the library at the College I attended and find it, but that won’t be until August when my son moves to the dorms there.
Also, as a side issue: Several points made by scholars regarding the contents of the scrolls are exaggerations, and some statements are technically correct – but avoid revealing the whole truth. I highly recommend checking anything you read against the actual texts…
Let me guess. The Damascus Document or the Community Rule or one of those peshers?