Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Studies in the Bible and Antiquity


The Dead Sea Scrolls constitute a seminal resource for understanding the context of the early Christian community and several New Testament texts. Soon after their discovery, some very sensational claims were made about the Qumran community and its literature (the scrolls) in terms of their connection to Jesus and his followers. While these have largely been dismissed, and serious and persistent scholarship over the years has shown that there were differences between the Qumran community and early Christianity, significant similarities do exist. These similarities line up largely according to the following categories: common scripture and its interpretation, theological ideas, vocabulary and practices, importance of the temple, eschatological and apocalyptic orientation, and the centrality of messianic expectations. This essay attempts to highlight some of the most significant of these parallels to show that both the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls are products of the same roots, that we should expect to find certain commonalities, and that to fully understand one corpus of writings, we have to know something about the other.