In 1947, two Bedouins found seven wrapped scrolls in a cave facing the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea. Authenticated by scholars, this chance discovery led to an extensive survey of the area. In the following decade, over 900 scrolls were recovered in neighboring caves. Most were torn to tiny pieces, and only in the early 21st century the initial publication of the scrolls was completed. This cache of documents is known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the show, we reviewed the story of the discovery of the scrolls, and how they relate to Christianity.
It turns out that the scrolls reflect a special Jewish movement, from the time of Jesus and John the Baptist, which opposed the priests in Jerusalem. They lived by the Dead Sea, and developed prayers and messianic expectations. Many scholars argue John the Baptist may have been a member of this group, but eventually he left to immerse people in repentance at the Jordan River. This traditional site, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, is only a few hour walk away from where the Scrolls were found.
Touring the Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Where Jesus was Baptized
The Scrolls were found in a total of 11 caves. They are spread around a site, whose Arabic name is Khirbet Qumran. Its ancient name is unknown, yet its excavations uncovered a wealth of finds, which indicate Qumran was settled by a special religious Jewish group.
The Jordan River flows over 200 km, but a specific site near Jericho is, by Christian tradition, the very spot where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Both sites are about a 40-minute drive from Jerusalem, and are popular tour destinations, especially for Christian pilgrim groups.