Biblical Archaeology Review 41:3, May/June 2015

A Short History of the Dead Sea Scrolls and What They Tell Us

By Lawrence H. Schiffman

Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2015

I want to say here and now how grateful I am to the original team of Dead Sea Scroll scholars who failed to publish the bulk of the scrolls for nearly 40 years and refused to let other scholars see them in the meantime. But for them, I would never have had the exciting life I have led as one of the first generation of scholars to study the full corpus of the scrolls after their release.

The earliest discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls occurred some six months before I was born. I became fascinated by the study of the scrolls in the 1960s when they were a little-known and underappreciated group of documents. I remember a comment someone made to me: “Why do you want to go into a field where you can’t see all the materials?”

Since then, everything has changed. No one asks me today why I chose to study the scrolls. Instead they ask me about different aspects of the scrolls—it seems that everyone knows something about them.

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