23 Jun 2010

Sample Essay:The Dead Sea Scrolls

Many English translations of the Old Testament are based on Masoretic text that comprises of the Hebraic bible. The Masoretes were scholars who were accustomed to copying of bible texts during the 8th century and their texts were considered the most accurate and oldest biblical texts. After the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, it was evident that the Dead Sea scrolls dated back over 2000 years while the Masoretic texts dated back 1000 years. Since the Dead Sea scrolls covered Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew languages, the most crucial issue is placing the relationship between the Masoretic texts and the Dead Sea scrolls. This brings out all apparent issues of considering the accuracy of our current scripture. The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture that was necessitated by the need for the scripture to reach the Greek speaking people. The greatest part of this translation was made from either Hebrew or Aramaic forms, and it is from this text that many modern bibles have been compiled. Looking at the Samaritan text, only the first Mosaic books are represented and the text was summed up before the Messianic era. Some New Testament passages are similar to it including the Jubilees, Enoch, the Assumption of Moses and the Septuagint, and this has made many scholars to adopt the text. But, it is only a small portion and does not cover the entire texts or even a large part of the Old Testament, since only five Mosaic books are represented in it. Thus, if a passage in the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch disagrees with Masoretic text, then, since the Masoretic text dates further back, and consists of much more content of the Hebraic Old Testament, then the Septuagint or the Pentateuch should be translated in the Bibles.

When considering the relationship of the Qumranites to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Qumranites were a group of ascetics who lived around the Qumran settlements, around the Dead Sea’s shores where the texts were discovered in caves. It is most probable that the library could have belonged to the Essenes that are an ancient sect that dwelt in Qumran having retired to the desert area to await the coming of the Messiah as they had anticipated. As much as the texts are diversified, there is nothing in them that could have been far above the interest of the Essenes, more so the texts have a sectarian touch in them. Also, there is no document however represented, that is in contradiction to the Essenic teachings as gathered from classical sources such as Josephus, Philo and Pliny. Though, it is not necessarily that all the documents could have been authored by the Essenes only. Some could have been obtained from elsewhere by the Qumranites. Different versions discovered like in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic implies that there are different groups or communities that were involved in the passing on of the scriptures, and these are the Greeks, Hebrews and the Aramaic speaking people. The scripture was not localized, and this is the attitude that is to be put in mind when interacting with the scrolls and the scripture as a whole. It was meant to be understood by all and thus it would be of great benefit that while considering the translation, interpretation and revision of scriptures in their different settings, much care should be taken in revisiting all the texts contained in the major original languages involved in the passing of these texts from the ancients to the latter people. So, comparing the texts is to be of first priority. Thus, if some parts do not tally, they should not be meddled with to avoid confusion. The bible shall be understood with greater ease in the region to different groups in different settings with different languages. This also implies greater accuracy of the current scriptures.

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