THE SECOND TEMPLE PERIOD
Deciphering the Dead Sea Scrolls - An Enormous Task
What do the Dead Sea scrolls say?
To answer this fundamental question, experts first had to piece together the original scrolls as best they could from thousands of fragments. They relied on differences in script and the specific characteristics of the parchment rolls and papyrus found. In the end, it was determined that there are about 950 scrolls.
And then came the job of deciphering them. Scholars discovered that the Qumran scrolls contained biblical manuscripts (all the books of the Hebrew Bible are there, except the Book of Esther and Nehemiah), para-biblical writings and documents relating to the sect itself. All in all, they provide unique information on Jewish society, literature and religion at the time. This was also the historical context in which Christianity emerged.
The deciphering, transcription and official publication of the scrolls has taken half a century and is now essentially complete. The last phase of the work, the analysis and interpretation of the scrolls has only begun.