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Assignments for Dead Sea Scrolls

Recommended Methodology for Learning Experiences:

As a way to assist you in getting the most out of the learning experiences below, I suggest you do the following:

1) Read the required textbook reading first. Make a sincere effort at understanding the material with particular attention to material that relates to the questions.

2) Read through the questions and complete the assignment.

Be advised that the Learning Exercises below contain several online exams that are posted on my website. You must prepare for these exams via the reading material associated with them. They are NOT "open book" exams, and require a proctor. See below for more details.

Assignments 1-3:Introductory and Historical Matters

Assignment 1 -Read the short internet article "Second Temple Judaism" available on my website; then read DSST chs. 1,3, 4, and 7 (pp.1-27, 71-120, 187-203), and WAC, 3-48.You may also find the summary of the scrolls discovery at interesting (it's a terrific website for the DSS).It contains pictures of the scrolls and some of the cast of characters associated with their discovery.

For a brief overview of the standard Essene-Qumran view, read

Lastly, read the article by Sandra Williams on the Sadducean origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls at

Part 1 -In 5-8 pages, answer the following questions (80 pts.):

1.Upon what basis have the scrolls been dated (explain your terms)? What is the date range for the scrolls?

2.Explain the "standard" or predominantly accepted view as to the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls (hereafter, DSS) and the relationship of the Qumran site to the scrolls? What evidence is there for this model?

3.Briefly summarize the Sadducean theory of scroll origins.

4.What are the objections to the "standard model" given by Wise, Abegg, and Cook? Explain their alternative model, being clear to point out where it differs from the standard model.

Part 2  Review WAC 44-45, then take the brief "exam" on scroll nomenclature posted on my website (20 pts.).You need to give me the name and email address of a proctor for this exam.

Assignment 2 Read DSST ch.2 (pp. 29-70) and then take the second short online exam (25. pts).The exam is based on these pages, and requires your ability to define terms used throughout these pages. You will also need to be able to associate / match texts mentioned in this chapter with their respective genre / category. As with the exam above, you need to provide me the name and email address of your proctor.

Assignment 3  Read DSST ch. 5 (pp. 121-158) on the importance of the DSS for our understanding of the transmission history of the Hebrew Bible (OT). Then read the discussion of the Hebrew text in the first few pages (down to "Ideal and Reality in the Era of the Sages") of the online article at .

Next, read my article entitled "Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and the Sons of God" (a response to a previous article by a man named David L. Stevens).Editors at Bib Sac forced me to water down my text-critical response to Stevens (who has since changed his views) due to length, but I think you can still get the gist of how he seems to be unaware of the contribution of the DSS to text HISTORY. My article is scheduled to appear in Bib Sac (Jan. 2001), and when it does I will pull my online copy off the website. Lastly, read the article by John Martin on the text of Samuel, as well as the textual notes on I Samuel in a copy of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV; i.e., read through I Samuel, reading the textual notes in the NRSV and comparing the translation with another English Bible perhaps KJV or NIV). You may find passages like I Samuel 13:1 especially interesting. The NRSV is noteworthy in that it is the first major English translation to favor the Septuagint / DSS text traditions (as opposed to the Masoretic text) as the base for its English translation.


"Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and the Sons of God," Michael S. Heiser (on my website pending Jan. 2001 release in Bib Sac)

"Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel, Part 3:The Text of Samuel," by John A. Martin, Bibliotheca Sacra 141:563 (1984):209-222

In 4-7 pages, answer the following questions:

1.Summarize the importance of the DSS for reliably restoring the Hebrew text of the Old Testament (cf. to the Martin article and the NRSV notes)

2.Summarize the contribution of the DSS for our understanding of the historical transmission of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. Include a discussion of the Septuagint in your answer.

3.What do the DSS remains of the biblical Hebrew text tell us about "which Bible" the Jewish people of the Second Temple used?

Assignments 4-8: Reading some of the Scrolls

You will be asked to read the following DSS texts and the introductions to these texts in WAC, as well as those introductory overviews from online sources assigned below (all of the links are also provided from my website). For each DSS, read BOTH introductions first, then the actual translation of the text. You may also want to note that the links sometimes contain other links for pictures of these texts (the above link also contains pictures).

Assignment 4 "Life in the Qumran Community and its Apocalyptic Beliefs"

Part 1 Life in the Community

Read WAC pp. 49-73 (Damascus Document) and 123-142 (Charter of a Jewish Sectarian Association).Read the additional introductions on each of these texts below:

Damascus Document (CD) [also referred to as the Damascus Covenant]

Charter of a Jewish Sectarian Association (1QS) [also known as the Manual of Discipline or Community Rule] -

In 3-5 pages, answer the following:

1.What do these texts describe? Summarize their contents.

2.How would one become a member of the Qumran community according to these texts?

3.What was life like in the Qumran community?

4.What were the "Two Ways"?

Part 2 Apocalyptic Beliefs

Review DSST pp. 117-120 (as above), then read WAC 143-171 (1Qsa, the Charter for the Last Days, Priestly Blessings for the Last Days, and The War Scroll). Read the online introductions to 1QSa and the War Scroll below.


War Scroll -

In 3-5 pages, summarize what the people of Qumran believed about "the last days"

Assignment 5 Biblical Canon and Interpretation at Qumran and Their Method of Interpretation

Part 1 The Qumranic view of the Canon

Read DSST pp. 142-158 again (if you do not know what the "canon" is, find an article from any Bible dictionary on it; the term basically refers to the collection of books that were considered inspired). Then read WAC 264-265 (Enoch and the Watchers), 246-250 (the Book of the Giants).Finally, read the Book of Enoch, chs. 6-16 (available online at (the Non-Canonical Homepage); this book and the Book of Jubilees were taken very seriously by the Jews at Qumran. They include the "rest of the story" to Gen. 6:1-4).

In 3-5 pages, answer the following:

1.Did the people at Qumran consider Enoch and Jubilees to be canonical (inspired)? Why or why not?

2.In view of the conservative Judaism of the people at Qumran, what do you make of their view of Enoch and Jubilees?

3.Since Enoch is quoted in the book of Jude, what do think our view of Enoch should be?

For some of the above, you may want to consult a theological dictionary or systematic theology's discussion on the canon and canonicity. See the bibliography for some suggestions.

Part 2 Their Method of Interpretation

Review DSST pp. 44-55.Then read WAC 114-123 (Habakkuk Commentary), 199-204 (Reworking of Genesis and Exodus), 209-224 (commentaries on Isaiah, Hosea, Nahum, and Psalms), 233-237 (Interp. Of verses dealing with the "Last Days"), and 271-277 (commentaries on the Law of Moses and Genesis). Finally, read the additional online introduction below:

Habakkuk commentary -

In 3-5 pages, answer the following:

1) How literally do you think the people of Qumran interpreted their Bible?

2) Summarize their method of interpretation. Have you ever heard anyone in modern times make the same kinds of interpretations? Give examples if so.

Assignment 6 Worship at Qumran

Review DSST pp. 60-64, then read WAC 84-113 (Hodayot Thanksgiving Psalms), 317-323 (various priestly duties and calendar), and 365-377 (Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice). Read the introduction to the Hodayot below. Finally, read the article "Angels" by C. Newsome in the Anchor Bible Dictionary concentrate on the section where she discusses angels in postbiblical Judaism and at Qumran / in the DSS.

Hodayot -

In 3-5 pages, describe the role of angels in the worship at Qumran. How did the Qumran community view itself in relation to heaven and angelic beings?

Assignment 7 "Messianism at Qumran (and in Second Temple Judaism)"

Review DSST pp. 117-120, and read DSST ch. 6 (pp. 159-186; esp. 177-180). Read WAC 229-230 (Messianic prooftexts), and pp. 268-270 (the "son of God" text).Then read the link below regarding the "Two Messiahs" of Qumran. Finally, read The Scepter and the Star in its entirety.(You should note that Collins is not an evangelical scholar, but has much of value to say. For an evangelical perspective on Qumran, its Messianism, and the impact of the DSS on Christianity in general, we will read Pate's book; you may read ahead, but don't have to).

Two messiahs

In 5-10pages, answer the following questions:

1.Why did the people at Qumran believe two messiahs were coming? Upon what basis in the Hebrew Bible did they use for this belief? How did they look forward to their coming, and is there any similarity between what they did and what Christians do to remember Jesus and look forward to his second coming?

2.What relationship (if any) does Collins see between the Messiah and the title "son of God"? What does he say in this regard about Jesus?

3.Does Collins see any relationship between Daniel 7's "son of man" and the Messiah? Does he see any relationship between Daniel 7's "son of man" and Jesus?

4.Is there any basis for John the Baptist being a member of the Qumran community?