Kuolleenmeren kääröt

Sandra ja Jerald Tanner

Apostoli Orson Pratt lausui aikoinaan, että "Vanhan testamentin vanhimmat nykyään olemassaolevat käsikirjoitukset ovat kotoisin 12. vuosisadalta j.Kr."
Se saattoi olla totta silloin, mutta Kuolleenmeren kääröjen löytäminen on muuttanut koko tilanteen. Meillä on nyt joitakin käsikirjoituksia, jotka ovat peräisin ajoilta ennen Kristusta.
Kuolleenmeren kääröt löydettiin v. 1947, kun eräs poika heitti kiven luolaan lähellä Kuolluttamerta. Hän hämmästyi ääntä, joka oli syntynyt jonkin esineen rikkoutumisesta, ja palasi takaisin myöhemmin ja löysi ruukkuja, joiden sisällä oli muinaisia käsikirjoituksia. Tämä oli vain alkua, sillä seuranneissa joukkoetsinnöissä löytyi useita tärkeitä käsikirjoituksia.

The Biblical manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls have been called by scholars 'the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.' They include Old Testament books and non-Biblical texts dating from 100 B.C. to A.D. 68.1

Frank Moore Cross, Jr. kuvailee kääröjä näin:

A sketch of the contents of Cave IV may be helpful.... At the end of four years' labor 382 manuscripts have been identified from this cave.... Of the manuscripts identified thus far, about one hundred, slightly more than one fourth of the total, are biblical. All of the books of the Hebrew canon are now extant, with the exception of the Book of Esther....

Three very old documents have been found in Cave IV.... They include an old copy of Samuel, preserved in only a handful of fragments; a patched and worn section of Jeremiah,... and a copy of Exodus ... of which only a column and a few tatters are extant....

The archaic Samuel scroll can date scarcely later than 200 B.C. A date in the last quarter of the third century is preferable. The Jeremiah is probably slightly later. The archaic Exodus ... appears to be no later than the old Samuel fragments and probably is earlier.

One copy of Daniel is inscribed in the script of the late second century B.C....

The biblical scrolls from Qumran span in date about three centuries. A few archaic specimens carry us back to the end of the third century, as we have seen. The heavy majority, however, date in the first century B.C. and in the first Christian century ...2

Mormon scholars accept the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls, although they have not come to grips with the serious problems that these manuscripts create for the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's Inspired Version of the Bible.
Werner Keller tiivisti Jesajan käärön tilanteen näin:

The text of Isaiah from the cave at Qumran had actually been copied about 100 B.C., as Professor Albright had been first to recognize ... with the discovery of the Dead Sea scroll of Isaiah we have a Hebrew text of the Bible.... And the remarkable and wonderful fact is that ancient scroll of Isaiah, just like the book of the prophet in any printed Bible, whether in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, or any other language,... agrees with our present-day text.

Seventeen sheets of leather sewn together into a length of almost twenty-three feet--this must have been what the roll of the prophet looked like as it was handed to Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth so that he might read from it to the congregation. "And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias [Isaiah]." (Luke 4:16,17) "Every movement of Jesus' hands is brought closer to us," writes Professor Andre Parrot, "for we can still see on the reverse side of the leather the marks of the readers' fingers."3

Dr. Gleason L. Archer points out about the Isaiah scrolls that

"even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 per cent of the text. The 5 per cent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling."4

Bible scholars have reason to rejoice over the discovery of manuscripts of Isaiah dating back to ancient times. Mormon scholars, however, are faced with a dilemma, for although these manuscripts support the text of the Bible, they could turn out to be one of the strongest evidences against Joseph Smith's "inspired revision" of the Bible and his "translation" of the text of Isaiah found in the Book of Mormon. For years Mormon scholars have labored to prove that the text of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is actually a translation of an ancient copy of Isaiah and is therefore superior to the translation found in the Bible. They have attempted to show parallels between the text of Isaiah found in the Book of Mormon and that found in some ancient manuscripts. We have shown, however, that these parallels are of little value because the manuscripts were known and studied in Joseph Smith's time (See Mormon Scriptures and the Bible, pp.9-10).
If Mormon scholars could find similarities between the text of the Book of Mormon and documents that were not known in Joseph Smith's day, this type of evidence would be impressive. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, should provide a great deal of evidence for the Book of Mormon if it is really an ancient record. The Isaiah scroll found at Qumran Cave 1 should have caused a great deal of joy among Mormon scholars, for here is a manuscript of Isaiah which is hundreds of years older than any manuscript previously known. Surely, if the Book of Mormon were true, this manuscript would be filled with evidence to support the text of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon and thus prove that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Instead of proving the Book of Mormon, however, it has turned out to be a great disappointment to Mormon scholars.
Lewis M. Rogers, who was assistant professor of religion at Brigham Young University, stated:

Latter-day Saints have cause to rejoice with other Christians and Jews for the new light and fresh perspective brought to them by the Dead Sea Scrolls, but occasionally they need to be reminded that their hopes and emotions make them vulnerable. It is quite possible that claims for the Book of Mormon and for L.D.S. theology will not be greatly advanced as a consequence of this discovery.5

Wayne Ham wrote his M.A. thesis for the department of biblical languages at Brigham Young University in 1961. His thesis compared the Isaiah scroll with the Book of Mormon and is titled, "A Textual Comparison of the Isaiah Passages in the Book of Mormon with the Same Passages in the St. Mark's Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea Community." After making this study, Mr. Ham was forced to the conclusion that the Isaiah scroll does not support the text in the Book of Mormon. In an article he stated:

Latter Day Saints were hopeful that these Isaiah scrolls would bring some supportive evidence for the Book of Mormon. The Dead Sea Isaiah scroll, which dates probably from the second century B.C., predates by one thousand years what was previously considered to be the oldest surviving text of the Old Testament.

After a thorough investigation of the matter... this writer found no noteworthy instances of support for the Book of Mormon claims.6

Mormon apologist Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, of Brigham Young University, had to admit that the Dead Sea Scrolls do not help the case for the Book of Mormon:

After reading the Scrolls very carefully, I come to the conclusion that there is not a line in them that suggests that their writers knew the Gospel as understood by Latter-day Saints. In fact, there are a few passages that seem to prove the contrary....
We should be especially interested in the light the Isaiah scroll throws on the problem of the Isaiah text in the Book of Mormon. I have compared in some detail the text of the scroll with its parallels in the Book of Mormon text. This tedious task has revealed that the scroll seldom agrees with the departures of the Book of Mormon text from that of the conventional Masoretic text of Isaiah and consequently the Authorized Version.... The Isaiah scroll is of relatively little use to Latter-day Saints as showing the antiquity of the text of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.... The Scrolls undoubtedly contribute much to the history of Judaism and Christianity, and specialists of the Old and New Testaments are properly much concerned with them....
But aside from their technical value to scholars, I believe that the importance of the Scrolls in a religious sense has been highly overrated by certain scholars. Their practical importance to Latter-day Saints is relatively small.7

  1. Compton's Encyclopedia, vol. 6, p.41a
  2. The Ancient Library of Qumran, by Frank Moore Cross, Jr., New York, 1961, pp.39, 40, 42, 43
  3. The Bible as History, by Werner Keller, William Neil, trans., New York, 1957, pp.423-24
  4. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Gleason L. Archer, p.19
  5. Lewis M. Rogers, "The Significance of the Scrolls and a Word of Caution" Progress in Archaeology, Brigham Young University, 1963, pp.46-47
  6. Courage, vol. 1, no. 1, September 1970, p.20
  7. Progress in Archaeology, pp.52-54

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 2001-06-17 — 2003-08-17