Sample Essay on Qumran Movement

Qumran Movement


Originally, Qumran refers to the location where 981 ancient scrolls were discovered in eleven caves, creating a gateway towards understanding Late Second Temple Judaism, as well as New Covenant Christianity. The scrolls were discovered by a shepherded, who unknowing of the value, sold them to researchers and scholars that were amazed at the discovery. From 1946 to 1956, 981 scrolls were collected, summative referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls, owing the location of the scrolls close to the Dead Sea. The information depicted in the scrolls has been vital, enabling scholars to develop better theories in regards to religion and history (Collins, 2010). The Dead Sea Scrolls have heightened a debate and argument in regards to the settlers and people living in the region of Qumran. Scholars and researchers have explicated varying positions and understanding of the population based in Qumran, stemming major debate in regards to the issue. The most significant aspect is the movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls, since discovery until now. The Dead Sea scrolls have greatly shifted in ownership, moving from their location of discovery to various places around the world (Thomas, 2009). The compilation and publication of the findings have also spurred the movement, with the information reaching a wider range of people.

The research’s aim is to understand the Qumran movement and their interaction with other settlers and inhabitants of the area. Their relationship with the Pharisees and Essenes is also a significant issue, which the research aims to understand through the use of varying material and research information. By the end of this research activity, the paper will provide summative inferences regarding the Qumran movement, populations associated with Qumran, as well as their relationship with the elucidated communities and people.

Background Information

As explicated, Qumran refers to an archaeological site in Israel. Here, 981 ancient scrolls have been discovered, which date to 1000 years before the Bible. The information possessed by the scrolls is fundamental to understanding the lives and cultures of the people then, as well as understanding various religious origins. The range of discovered scrolls is referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls, or generally, the Qumran. Since their discovery, the Qumran has majorly moved to various locations, owing to their intriguing factors and elucidation of vital archaeological, historical, and religious information (Thomas, 2009). The Qumran has been one of the most fundamental discoveries of archaeology, as it is a gateway to understanding the lives of the Biblical characters, as well as the lives of the people at these periods of time.

Prior the 1990s, when the Qumran discoveries were put into print, scholars had minimal information to use in regards to the lives and cultures of the biblical characters. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has played a fundamental role in reversing this phenomenon, with a provision of vital and relevant information, which was published prior the Bible. The information elucidated has been essential in bettering our understanding of the earlier settlers of the region, as well as the Biblical characters.

The Dead Sea Scrolls’ discovery has had a profound impact on our understanding of the early period Christian origins, as well as the Late Second Temple Judaism. Scholars now have access to texts of biblical manuscripts that are over three centuries older than the Masoretic text (Schofield, 2008). The scrolls, today, are available in many languages and translations, owing to the work of scholars, publishers, and other organization. They are widely read, and provide vital information to various learners and scholars, making them important for today’s world. However, a range of questions exists, in regards to the Dead Sea Scrolls, such as their unique location. How did the scrolls end up in desert caves? Was this a populated area, and were there inhabitants at the time? What is the relation between the Scrolls and the ancient complex Khirbet Qumran? What information can they reveal about various religious beliefs as well as archaeological facts? These are some of the questions that this research aims to tackle, with the aim of bettering the understanding of the inhabitants of Qumran, as well as the relevance of the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Literature Review

The discovery of the scrolls resulted in the publication of the depicted information in various languages and translations. However, upon discovery, the precious scrolls were only available to a small number of scholars and researchers, to maximize the confidentiality, as well as the understanding of the information provided by the vital resource. However, over the years, many publications have been made, exposing the public to a vast array of information related to the BCE era. An example of secondary literature is Judith Newman’s John, Qumran and Other Dead Sea Scrolls. The book focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, extracting vital information from them, and exposing it to the reader.  In her book, Newman focuses on bettering the understanding of the Qumran, through an elucidation of their culture, as well as references from the scrolls (Atkinson & Magness, 2010). She takes an in-depth analysis approach, focusing on the original writings of the writers of the manuscripts and scrolls. Her work presentation is exemplary and enables the reader to understand the information provided by the writers of the scrolls.

Much of the publication of the scrolls has focused on bettering the reader’s understanding of the information provided by the Dead Sea Scrolls. The analysis of the scrolls betters the analysis of biblical literature, as the scrolls date over three centuries prior its compilation. This makes the Dead Sea Scrolls vital pieces of information sources, in regards to religious groups, namely Christianity and Judaism. In regards to the primary text, the scrolls offer a fundamental archaeological information, historical information, and religious information. They depict the lives of the people prior the biblical age, creating a critical source for biblical analysis. As elucidated, prior the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars and researchers had a harder time analyzing biblical manuscripts as well as other historical information, owing to the lack of comparison material. The discovery exposed the researchers and scholars to a broad array of information, bettering their understanding of the biblical texts, as well as historical information. A thorough analysis of the information provided by the Dead Sea Scrolls will better enhance my research, making it more substantial and effective in conveying the message, in regards to the movement of Qumran, over the years since its discovery. A combination of the primary text analysis with secondary information will better enhance the research findings, making it more substantial and informed.


The discovery of the Qumran Archives is better explained as a story, where a shepherd of the Ta’amireh tribe was in search for a stray, leaving his flock of goats and sheep. He found a cave in the crumbling limestone cliffs of the Dead Sea, in the northwestern part. He threw a stone into the cave, and a sound of breaking pots could be heard. This prompted him to move in and found a collection of clay pots, with a majority of the pots being intact. Most were empty, but the Bedouin came across old scrolls, with some wrapped in linen, but back owing to their age. He took some of his friends and headed to Bethlehem to meet Kando, an antiquities dealer. The findings intrigued the dealer, and he asked the Bedouin to go back to the caves and look for more scrolls. Since he did not know the value of his findings, he sold four of the scrolls to the dealer, and three others to another dealer, Salahi (Schofield, 2008).

Kando, the dealer, resold the scrolls to Head of the Syrian Orthodox Monastery, Archbishop Samuel. He was of St Mark, Jerusalem. Professor Eliezer Lipa Sukenik of the Hebrew University heard of the circulating information regarding the discovery and set out to investigate the search’s significance. He met the dealer, who had a fragment of leather, and gave it to the professor for examination. He credited the discovery and went to see the scrolls with the dealer. On opening the scrolls, the professor was amazed at just how much the discovery was significant, and among the greatest of the times. At this point, as the professor recalls, he shook so much, owing to the fact that he could not believe that he was holding a scroll that had not been read for over 2000 years (Tov, 2008). Other significant occurrences are as elucidated below.

1949: Turmoil in the region results to Archbishop Samuel smuggling the precious scrolls to Syrian Church, New Jersey, from the country.

1954: The archbishop sets to sell the scrolls, and posts an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal. Professor Sukenik’s son, Yigael Yadin makes the purchase through a middleman.

1955: With the three scrolls located at the Hebrew University, Yadin joins the seven scrolls together.

1965: The construction of the ‘Shrine of the Book’ is created, aimed at housing the seven discovered scrolls.

After the word spread in regards to the seven scrolls, archaeologists, and other researchers embarked on a mission to do more searches in the area, which has led to the discovery of over 900 different texts, written in Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew languages. The scrolls are referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls and have been fundamental in bettering the understanding of the religious, historical, and archaeological aspects (Tov, 2008).

Qumran Movement

Scholars, journalists, lay people, and Pseudo-scholars have debated the identity of the mysterious community in the region of Dead Sea Scrolls’ discoveries. The debate has been major since the discovery, with people forming varying hypotheses based on their understanding of the scrolls’ information. The major understanding a hypothesis is the Essene Hypothesis, which elucidates that the settlement of Khirbet Qumran was predominantly a sectarian community of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most scholars and researchers have shared the understanding and agreed to this fact. However, over the years of publication and generation of more content regarding the Qumran, different groups have developed varying beliefs and hypotheses (Ben-Dov&Saulnier, 2008). However, the Essene Hypothesis remains the dominant theory, but other emergent theories also provide substantial proof of the matter.

Over the recent years, scholars have identified Qumran as a pottery production site, a villa, a military fortress, and a modified version of sectarian settlement. Scholars working prior 1990 had limited access to information, resulting in incomplete data sets. With this discovery, however, scholars can develop new theories and better their understanding of the settlers, judging from the information extracted from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The theories are based on the researcher’s understanding of the information provided by the scrolls, and accompaniment with cultural and archaeological understanding (Collins, 2010). I believe that best results can only be achieved through the incorporation of all these facets of learning, with scholars and professionals partnering to develop a better and more understandable theory.

One of the most significant scholars is John J. Collins, who in his new book, Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls, focuses on the merits and demerits of the many existent theories on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran. In the book, Collins embarks on presenting his personal theory regarding the Qumran and the settlers of the region. The vast knowledge possessed by Collins in regards to the area, as well as the culture of the Dead Sea area makes him a vital analyst of the theories, as well as a presenter of his own. Based on archaeological evidence, most of the theories are regarded as speculative and opinionated, without any factual support. His approach is arguably too restrained, but by the end of the research, the reader agrees to Collins’ theory, which is unarguably the most informed theory (Collins, 2010). An overview of the book will enhance the understanding of the movement of the Qumran, and better discuss the settlers and communities of the area.

In the first chapter of the book, Collins focuses on the examination of the community in the Damascus Document. He terms the community as the New Covenant and examines their culture and beliefs. In the second chapter, the author focuses on the Yahad, a self-identification of the community emerging from the texts (Collins, 2010). The writer expounds on the two social groups and their literary record, presenting their importance in the shift of thinking of uniting the Dead Sea Scrolls. He argues for the need for a new understanding of the New Covenant, which based on his understanding, was profoundly devoted to the law, and biblical teachings. He rejects the chronology opening of the Damascus Document, which he attributes to internal community development, and not history. He takes a rather conservative approach, arguing that history should better emphasize on the commencement of the New Covenant at around middle second century BCE, which is the date when the earliest manuscript of the Damascus Document was written.

In the second chapter, the attention shifts to the community rule, an aspect that has been used as a guide for the reconstruction of Dead Sea Scrolls Community. As it is evident in the scroll, Collins also confirms that the rule of a community elucidates a sectarian community with well-defined rules and ways of life. This is a clear aspect and has been majorly supported by many scholars and theorists. The community refers to itself as the Yahad, and Collins discusses its relationship with the New Covenant. In the third chapter of the Book, Collins emphasizes on the historical context; I regard to the emergence of the New Covenant in the community. He supports Jodi Magness’s dating of the sectarian community settlement of the Qumran. He confirms it to be around the first century BCE. He focuses on eradicating the long held thought that the community had fights over succeeding priests in the Hasmonean period (Collins, 2010).

The fourth chapter of the book moves to focus on the community’s identity. Collins presents an argumentative and methodological approach to better the reader’s understanding of the relevant theory. Using the evidence of the Essenes, the author reevaluates the information to create a clearer theory. He focuses on aspects such as the relationship of Josephus and Philo in the Essenes, his knowledge of them and literary resources which they used. In the final chapter, Collins affirms that his work is for integration with the original Essenes Settlement Theory. His work affirms the theory, making the theory factual and the most reliable.

Based on the research, it is, therefore, unarguable that the settlers of Qumran were sectarians with well-developed principles and laws that govern them. The community was well organized and took into account historical proceedings, which most of the today’s scholars would commend them for their good work. The community put in writing the proceedings, and the manuscripts have since changed ownership and location over the years. The Dead Sea Scrolls have been stored, and there has been the development of a foundation aimed at funding further research and the preservation of the already collected scrolls.

Relationships and the Qumran

As elucidated, the Dead Sea Scrolls have played a fundamental role in bettering our understanding of the ancient religious, historical, and archaeological aspects. Through them, research and analysis of religion, as well as other anthropological aspects, has been eased. Consequently, this has equipped scholars with valuable information, which is applicable in various disciplines, with the aim of life betterment. As elucidated, it is clear that the Qumran were sectarians, who were well organized and had clearly stated laws that governed them. The writing was associated with elite communities, making the Qumran one of the advanced communities of the time. As elucidated by Collins in his book, the Qumran settlers were majorly an organized community, which was governed by laws and regulations.

The Qumran is evidently a group of people with a good organizational structure. However, a major argument exists in regards to whether they had issues regarding complaints, fights, and disagreements in priestly duties. According to Collins, however, basing on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Qumran was very peaceful and organized, and the shift of power was jointly coordinated, with a smooth flow.  The community had no fights or disagreements, and was harmonious, working together with neighboring people. The Dead Sea Scrolls’ discovery has had a profound impact on our understanding of the early period Christian origins, as well as the Late Second Temple Judaism. Scholars now have access to texts of biblical manuscripts that are over three centuries older than the Masoretic text. The scrolls, today, are available in many languages and translations, owing to the work of scholars, publishers, and other organization. They are widely read, and provide vital information to various learners and scholars, making them vital for today’s world. However, a range of questions exists, in regards to the Dead Sea Scrolls, such as their unique location.

The relationship between the Qumran and the Pharisees is evident in the book, as explicated in various books of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They interacted, in regards to religious and other activities. Cultural integration is evident in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where the varying communities interacted for trade, and during wars. The relationship can, however, not be understood clearly, in regards to war or peace. The relationship can be referred to as complimentary, with Qumran needing various services from the Pharisees, and the Pharisees needing other services. The Qumran movement relationship with the Essenes is also depicted in the scrolls, with the Qumran people being attributed to being from the community. Their organizational structure clearly elucidates a close relationship with the Essenes, depicting a good interaction between the two people.


As a summative, it is evident that the Qumran was an organized sectarian group, whose relationship with neighboring communities has been clearly depicted in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scholars have developed antagonistic theories, which aim to provide a different account of the happenings of the time. The paper clearly depicts the relationship between the Qumran and other communities, and how it was organized. The questions unclear during the commencement of the research have been successfully tackled, with the reader expected to benefit to maximize benefit from the research.


Atkinson, K., & Magness, J. (2010). Josephus’s Essenes and the Qumran Community. Journal of Biblical Literature, 129(2), 317-342.

Ben-Dov, J., & Saulnier, S. (2008). Qumran Calendars: A Survey of Scholarship 1980—2007. Currents in Biblical Research, 7(1), 124-168.

Collins, J. J. (2010). Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Schofield, A. (2008). From Qumran to the< i> Yaḥad</i. Brill.

Thomas, S. I. (2009). The” mysteries” of Qumran: Mystery, Secrecy, and Esotericism in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Society of Biblical Literature.

Tov, E. (2008). Hebrew Bible, Greek Bible and Qumran: Collected essays (Vol. 121). Mohr Siebeck.