Introduction: Dead Sea Scrolls

Dr. Torleif Elgvin, Dead Sea Scrolls scholar and
Member of the Official Publication Team of the Scrolls

The Schøyen Collection has since 1994 acquired 115 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments from 26 different Scrolls plus artefacts from the Essene community that hid this important Jewish library from Roman soldiers in AD 68. The fragments were among those found by the Bedouin in cave 1 in Qumran in late 1946, Cave 4 in 1952, and cave 11 in 1956, and subsequently sold to the dealer Kando in Bethlehem. They were in the hands of private proprietors and were not known to the scholarly community before they became part of The Schøyen Collection. The fragments are mainly dated to the Hasmonaean and Herodian periods (1st cent. BC - 68 AD) , and will be published by myself alongside other collaborators. Five texts have previously been published in the official DJD series vols. 26,28,32,37, and 38.

This part of the collection includes:

  • Remnants of 16 of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, including the five books of the Pentateuch. Several of the fragments preserve important textual variants compared to the traditional Hebrew text (the Masoretic text) and the Septuagint. 12 of these scrolls also have part of the earliest text known of the Bible.
  • A fragment of the apocryphal book of Tobit, and a leather fragment of the apocryphal book 1 Enoch, and further two of the three known papyrus scrolls of 1 Enoch are also in the collection.
  • Fragments from some non-biblical scrolls: Rule of Benedictions from the Manual of Discipline Scroll, the Temple Scroll, the Genesis Apocryphon Scroll, and a fragment of a hitherto unknown text.
  • The original cloth wrapper of the Temple Scroll and a stylus found together with the Temple Scroll in cave 11.
  • A small incense altar, and an inkwell of bronze, asserted to have been found by the bedouin at Qumran before the archaeological excavations there.
  • A scroll jar – one of the pottery jars containing scrolls, which were found by the Bedouin in Cave 1 at Qumran late 1946.

The Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran is the most important textual find of the 20th century. It has ramifications for biblical studies (Old and New Testament) and for the understanding of early Jewish history and tradition.