The Dead Sea Scrolls And The New Testament  

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

The Dead Sea Scrolls were penned by a set of scribes near the Dead Sea, just outside of Jerusalem.

The scribes who preserved these manuscripts were known as the Essenes, and they were wiped out by the Romans between 67-70 A.D.

However, their copies of the Old Testament manuscripts were hidden and preserved in the numerous caves along the Dead Sea, until recent times.

These manuscripts have been extremely beneficial in reminding us of the accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures.

By comparing these manuscripts with others which were penned nearly a thousand years later, we see that the manuscripts had indeed remained virtually unchanged in many centuries of copying.

Bible apologists have rightly used these evidences to confirm to our unbelieving and skeptical friends the fact that God did indeed preserve His Word.

Yet there are other ways that the Dead Sea Scrolls testify to the accuracy of the Bible.

Many are unaware that among the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found quotations of the New Testament Scriptures.

Bill Cooper documents some of these evidences and their implications:

“The caves at Qumran are famous for the hoard of Old Testament and other manuscripts that have been found there. But the thing which receives the least publicity (if any publicity at all) is the fact that the caves have also yielded fragments of New Testament books. This absence of publicity – this blanket denial of their identity is not to be wondered at. The fact of the matter is this, that these manuscripts were deposited in the caves at Qumran by the year AD 68 at the very latest, when Qumran and the surrounding area was overrun by the Roman 10th Legion, and according to the critics, the New Testament – especially the Gospels – had not yet been written by that time…Cave 4 at Qumran is of some interest to us here. In that cave was discovered a particular fragment known today as 4QAlpha. Though not actually a fragment of Mark’s Gospel – it was originally thought to be a medical text it does reflect the healing miracle of the blind man recorded in Mark 8:22- 26, and moreover contains the New Testament names of Caiaphas, Peter (the first time that this name has been found in an Hebrew/Aramaic document), and Aquila…Fragments of various New Testament books were themselves found in the caves of Qumran, most notably in Cave 7. One that is of particular interest is called 7Q5, and carries nothing less than a passage from Mark 6:52- 53. 3…identifying other fragments from Cave 7 as parts of the New Testament, especially fragment 7Q4 which contains 1 Timothy 3:16- 4:3….The discoveries in Cave 7 at Qumran – and the commendable diligence of O’Callaghan who identified them – proves that what the critics have been teaching all these years is wrong, misinformed and mistaken on all levels. Archaeology has never spoken plainer than it speaks right now. Copies of the New Testament books of Mark, 1 Timothy, James, Acts, Romans and 2 Peter (at least) were all in circulation by AD 68 at the very latest, and clearly years before. But what is more, they were in circulation internationally and not just locally amongst Christian groups or churches….We spoke earlier of the lack of publicity which surrounds the discovery of New Testament books – or rather their fragments – at Qumran, and their omission is pointedly displayed by Emanuel Tov, who has issued a ‘complete’ list of all the Biblical texts discovered in the Qumran caves. 22 It is indeed a prodigious and comprehensive list, except that when it comes to Cave 7 he omits all reference to the New Testament fragments which were discovered there….As we have seen, represented amongst these ‘unclassified’ fragments are the New Testament books of 1 Timothy (7Q4); Mark’s Gospel (7Q5) (7Q6, 1) (7Q7) (7Q15); James (7Q8); Acts (7Q6); Romans (7Q9); and 2 Peter (7Q10). How these can all be omitted from a list which claims to be ‘complete’ is something to be wondered at. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: part One-The Gospels, 300-470 (Kindle Edition))

Notice with me a few observations from this quotation.

First, the claim often made by skeptics of the Bible that the New Testament Books were written centuries after the time of Christ is clearly refuted.

These fragments of the New Testament found in the Dead Sea Caves were copies of the New Testament Books, which places the originals some time earlier.

Keeping in mind that the Essenes finished their preserving work around A.D. 68, that shows the New Testament Books were written quite earlier indeed.

Other evidences indicate that the New Testament Scriptures began to be written within five to ten years of the Resurrection of Christ.

Second, the markings on the containers of some of these scrolls indicate that they had been received from Rome. The early Roman Empire had a postal system, in many ways comparable to our own.

This shows us that the Gospel had already spread across the Roman Empire within thirty to forty years of the Resurrection of Christ.

This lends support to the Bible teaching that the Gospel had spread to every creature under Heaven by the time Paul wrote Colossians (cf. Colossians 1:6, 23).

Third, we see again that those who would share evidences which confirm the authenticity of the Bible may expect to be publicly smeared by their peers.

This better helps us to understand why so many scientists and archaeologists may be hesitant to share evidences of the Bible with the public.

It also goes to demonstrate the lengths that some will go to in order to make sure such evidences of the Bible’s inspiration are kept hidden away from sight.

Nevertheless, God’s Word is always vindicated.

The credibility and historicity of the Bible is continually confirmed and established by the findings of science and archaeology.

Foolish indeed is the man who refuses to accept God’s holy Word.

I implore you, as a preacher of the Gospel of Christ, accept His gift of salvation. He died for you, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third Day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

He calls upon believers to repent of their sins and to be baptized (immersed in water) to have their sins forgiven and that they may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acs 2:37-38).

Why not turn to Him today?

If you are a prodigal child of God, I implore you repent immediately and confess your sins to The Lord as you rededicate yourself to Him (1 John 1:9).

The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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