The Dead Sea Scrolls And The New Testament Scriptures

It is written:

22  You have made yourselves pure by obeying the truth. Now you can have true love for your brothers and sisters. So love each other deeply—with all your heart. 23  You have been born again. This new life did not come from something that dies. It came from something that cannot die. You were born again through God’s life-giving message that lasts forever. 24  The Scriptures say, “Our lives are like the grass of spring, and any glory we enjoy is like the beauty of a wildflower. The grass dries up and dies, and the flower falls to the ground. 25  But the word of the Lord lasts forever.” And that word is the Good News that was told to you.” (1 Peter 1:22-25)

The Jewish group of scribes known as the Essenes worked very hard to preserve copies of the Old Testament Scriptures. Their writings were preserved in the caves along the Dead Sea, and provide remarkable evidence of the authenticity of the Scriptures.

However, many are not aware that the Essenes also reproduced copies of the New Testament Scriptures in their works!

““Jose *O’Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world in 1972 when he announced that he had translated a piece of the Gospel of Mark on a DSS fragment. This was the earliest known piece of Mark. Fragments from cave 7 had previously been dated between 50B.C. and A.D. 50 and listed under “not identified” and classified as “Biblical Texts.” O’Callahan eventually identified nine fragments….A date beforeA.D. 50 leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records. They would have to be accepted as historical. It would also show Mark to be one of the earlier Gospels. Further, since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, it would reveal that the New Testament was “published”—copied and disseminated—during the life time of the writers. It would also reveal the existence of the New Testament canon during this early period, with pieces representing every major section of the New Testament: Gospels, Acts, and both Pauline and General Epistles.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 188 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Thus far, fragments of the following New Testament Books have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls: Mark, Acts, 1 Timothy, Romans, James, and 2 Peter.

Why is this significant?

First, the manuscripts from this cave date to between 50 B.C. To 50 A.D. This shows that some of the New Testament Books were already written before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.

Further considering this fact, we are reminded that these manuscripts were copies of even older copies, which shows that the New Testament began being written very early in the first century. There was therefore not enough time for legend and myth to develop around the accounts of Jesus’ life, and reminds us again that these Books were eyewitness accounts.

Second, this means that the New Testament was written during the Eyewitness Period, when there were still plenty of eyewitnesses alive and present who would have quickly called out the Gospels as forgeries and fakes if the Apostles had embellished the stories of Jesus. This is another mark in evidence of the credibility of these Books.

Finally, it would be interesting to discover why these facts are not more often discussed. There seems to be a shroud of silence which descends on those scholars whose research and work casts a favorable light upon Christianity.

As Cooper notes:

““We spoke earlier of the lack of publicity which surrounds the discovery of New Testament books – or rather their fragments – at Qumran, and their omission is pointedly displayed by Emanuel Tov, who has issued a ‘complete’ list of all the Biblical texts discovered in the Qumran caves. 22 It is indeed a prodigious and comprehensive list, except that when it comes to Cave 7 he omits all reference to the New Testament fragments which were discovered there….As we have seen, represented amongst these ‘unclassified’ fragments are the New Testament books of 1 Timothy (7Q4); Mark’s Gospel (7Q5) (7Q6, 1) (7Q7) (7Q15); James (7Q8); Acts (7Q6); Romans (7Q9); and 2 Peter (7Q10). How these can all be omitted from a list which claims to be ‘complete’ is something to be wondered at. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: part One-The Gospels, 300-470 (Kindle Edition))

Despite the efforts of some to hide the evidence which continues to surface vindicating the truth of God’s Word, the Lord triumphs!

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