The Dead Sea Scrolls at a glance

AP News
Posted: May 25, 2013 12:42 PM
The Dead Sea Scrolls at a glance

The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of more than 10,000 manuscript fragments representing 900 separate texts, including the oldest biblical texts ever found. They were discovered in caves in the Judean desert alongside the Dead Sea. Most of the scrolls are animal skin parchment, a few are papyrus, and one is made of copper. At least 90 percent are written in Hebrew, while the rest are in Aramaic and Greek.

They include:

— About 200 manuscripts representing every book in the Hebrew Bible except Esther, most in small fragments. They predate the era of Jesus by about 80 years.

— Copies of non-canonical writings, including the Book of Jubilees and 1 Enoch, which had previously been known from ancient translations.

— Commentaries on Biblical texts, texts relating to historical events, legal texts.

— Previously unknown works, thought to have been composed by a community or communities that believed the End of Days was imminent.


Dead Sea Scrolls are currently located in the following collections:

— Israel Antiquities Authority (More than 10,000 scroll fragments)

— Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum (Seven of the most complete Dead Sea Scrolls)

— France National Library (377 scroll fragments representing 18 scrolls)

— Amman Museum (fragments of 20 scrolls, including the Copper Scroll)

— Heidelberg University in Germany (four phylactery pieces)

— Franciscan private museum in Jerusalem's Old City (two fragments)

— Terre Sainte Bible Museum in Paris (two scroll fragments)

— University of Chicago (one fragment)

— McGill University in Montreal (a few fragments)

— St. Mark's Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, N.J. (fragments of three scrolls)

— Schoyen Collection in Oslo, Norway (115 fragments)

— Asuza Pacific University in Asuza, Ca. (5 fragments)

— Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Tx. (3 fragments)

— Green Collection in Oklahoma City, Ok. (12 fragments)

— Private collection of Spaer family, Jerusalem (2 fragments)

— Private collection of Kando family in Bethlehem, West Bank (the family does not reveal how many fragments remain in its collection, but estimates range between 20 and 40.)


Some fragments have gone missing, including three large fragments of the Book of Samuel and two pieces from the Book of Daniel which were stolen from the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in 1966 during a tour of international diplomats. Their whereabouts are still unknown.


(Sources: Dead Sea Scholar Hanan Eshel's 2008 publication in the Israeli journal Cathedra, Schoyen Collection, Asuza Pacific University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Green Collection, Maud Spaer, William Kando.)