The "Sons of Light:"
The Spiritual Grandeur of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Everyone who has read the newspapers or listened to the radio or come within earshot of a professional Bible scholar during the past ten years has heard by now of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it is safe to say that no archeological discovery of recent times has produced a more profound or sustained public excitement. Partly, no doubt, this is due to the romantic circumstances of the discovery itself; everyone has been intrigued by the story of how an Arab boy, searching for a strayed goat in the Desert of Judah, stumbled by chance into a dark cave and found in it the oldest known manuscripts of the Bible and a collection of ancient but forgotten religious writings. Partly, too, it is due to the tantalizing mystery which surrounds the date and authorship of those writings, and to the fascination of watching scholarly sleuths cudgel their own and one another’s brains in trying to solve it. Mainly, however, it may be attributed to the sensational claim (popularized especially by Edmund Wilson) that the Dead Sea Scrolls challenge or impugn the uniqueness of the Christian faith. These documents, it is alleged, attest the existence of a Jewish sect which lived at the same time and in the same general area as John the Baptist and Jesus and which not only professed many of the doctrines they taught but actually believed in a Christ-like “Teacher of Righteousness” who suffered martyrdom but subsequently “reappeared in glory” to his disciples. Small wonder that in the face of such pronouncements the general public should suddenly be manifesting a burning interest in what went on in the Desert of Judah some two thousand years ago.
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