In Defense of the Faith |

Hunt, Dave

Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Reflect Badly on the Bible?

Question: It is my understanding that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was a blow to the Bible. The oldest copies of some Old Testament texts ever found were included in this find and turned out to be far different from the later copies already in our possession. If the copyists had made such errors in those few centuries, how far must the Bible of today be from the original Old Testament manuscripts!

Response: I don’t know where you got your information, but it is false. It was anticipated by Bible critics that great differences would be found, but that turned out not to be the case. Consider, for example, the manuscript of Isaiah now housed in its own museum in Jerusalem. The earliest copy we had of Isaiah prior to the Dead Sea discoveries was dated about AD 900, and the one discovered in the Dead Sea collection was dated about 100 BC So here was an opportunity to see what changes might have occurred through copyists’ inadvertent errors over the span of 1,000 years.

A comparison revealed a few spelling variations, some stylistic changes, and a rare word here and there that had either been left out or added but that did not change the meaning of the text. So in 1,000 years of copying, the text had been preserved without any real or significant change. The fact is that the discovery of the Isaiah scroll in the Qumran cave provided hard evidence that we have in our hands today the Old Testament as it was in the original documents.

— An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 63-64) by Dave Hunt