Biblical Archaeology Review 33:4, July/August 2007
The Dead Sea Scrolls

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Most scholars believe the Dead Sea Scrolls (more than 900 of them) were either written or collected by a sect of Jews called Essenes, who are described by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo. However, the scrolls themselves make no explicit reference to the Essenes. Scholars infer the connection because of the congruence of Essene philosophy and doctrine as reflected in the scrolls and as described in Josephus and Philo.

The Essenes lived from about the second century B.C.E. to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. In this, they were no different from many other Jewish movements that disappeared with the Roman suppression of the Great Jewish Revolt. After 70 C.E., only what would become Rabbinic Judaism and a movement of Jews that would become Christianity survived.

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