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The Dead Sea Scrolls and the People Who Wrote Them, Frank Moore Cross, Biblical Archaeology Review (3:1), Mar 1977.

Wadi Qumran

Wadi Qumran

After a quarter century of discovery and publication, the study of the manuscripts from the desert of Judah has entered a new, more mature phase. True, the heat and noise of the early controversies have not wholly dissipated. One occasionally hears the agonized cry of a scholar pinned beneath a collapsed theory. And in the popular press, no doubt, the so-called battle of the scrolls will continue to be fought with mercenaries for some time to come. However, the initial period of confusion is past. From the burgeoning field of scroll research and the new disciplines it has created, certain coherent patterns of fact and meaning have emerged.

The scrolls and the people who wrote them can be placed within a broad historical framework with relative certainty by virtue of external controls provided by the archaeologist and the palaeographer. At that point, the historian must begin his difficult task—difficult because internal data from the scrolls pose special historiographic problems resulting from their esoteric language. The usual methods of historical criticism are difficult to apply without excessive subjectivity.

Read the rest of The Dead Sea Scrolls and the People Who Wrote Them in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.

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