A Bedouin shepherd left his flock behind one day in 1947 to find the one sheep that had strayed. A natural response of Middle Eastern shepherds for centuries. His search led him to the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea, where he stumbled upon the first of the scrolls that have become one of the most significant archaeological finds of the modern era.

Thousands of manuscript fragments, left by the Jewish religious sect known as the Essenes during the Second Temple period (around 170-70 BC), provide insights into the roots of Judaism and Christianity. The texts in the scrolls include biblical books, religious writings, and community rules. A virtual treasure trove of findings that are still subjected to scholarly debate and public fascination.

Karen and I visited the caves on two separate trips to Israel. Very cool!

The Essenes were known for their strict adherence to religious traditions and their anticipation of the coming Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. Why did they hide the scrolls? Some believe they did so to protect them from Roman forces during the Jewish Revolt of the First Century. Others say it was a ritual deposit for religious reasons.

In my mind, it doesn’t matter.

This find gives us a valuable historical look at the biblical texts, copied and remarkably preserved by the Essences closer to the time they were originally written than any previously known copies. Evidence of scriptural accuracy and faithful transmission over centuries. The scrolls reveal minor variations and textual differences, valuable to scholars seeking to study how biblical writings evolved.

Through the centuries, scribes were responsible for preserving accurate copies of the scriptures from one generation to another. Their functions included copying the biblical texts—meticulously transcribing every word, character, and symbol from an existing manuscript to a new one. They used parchment or Papyrus, maintaining the correct script and format. Word and line spacing had to be exact. Copies with errors were either buried or used for teaching, but not for reading in the synagogue.

Scholarly debate continues over what some call “inconsistencies” in the texts, used to question their reliability. Some examples:

The Book of Genesis contains two different creation accounts. In Chapter I, God creates the world in six days, and Genesis 2 has a different order of creation (Adam is created before the plants and animals.) The counter argument: These accounts are complementary, not contradictory. One serves as an overview of creation, while the other describes the intimate relationship between God and humanity.
There are variations in the genealogies presented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. But these can be attributed to the purposes in the Gospels. The genealogy in Matthew’s description is meant to trace Jesus’s lineage through King David. Luke’s description emphasizes Jesus’s connection to all of humanity, tracing his lineage back to Adam.
The accounts of Jesus’s resurrection vary in their details. Point in case: the number of women who visited the tomb varies, as do the sequence of events. But scholars again claim the accounts are not contradictory, rather they can be seen as complementary, providing a fuller picture from different perspectives. On the main point they agree: Jesus was no longer in the tomb.
So, Mike…how is all this relevant for my life here in the 21st Century? Some will say it’s not, and that’s fine.

We have the freedom to choose; to believe or not believe that the scriptures offer a worthy roadmap for living. We should respect each other’s choices.

But what if the Bible is trustworthy? What if there is a Creator who spoke the universe into existence, or if you prefer, was the cause of the “Big Bang?”

If that Creator wanted us to know who he was, he might have left us a prescription for what’s making the world ill today, don’t you think? But like any medicine, it works only if we follow its instructions.

I leave you with these thoughts. If nothing else, becoming Bible literate offers a multitude of benefits. Spiritual guidance. A moral and ethical framework. Cultural and historical significance. Interfaith understanding. Personal growth. Religious education. Faith strengthening. The list goes on.

In my humble opinion, it’s worth the effort.

Blessings to you.

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” – Theodore Roosevelt