This year marks the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946-47. We are already seeing signs of various retrospective reporting and analysis in special issues of major mass media publications such as National Geographic and Life magazine. These thick, lavishly illustrated, special editions are harbingers of much more to come.
The central focus of much of the research over the past seven decades has been on identifying the life and times of the sectarian group that produced the scrolls, what we can know of their leader, known as the Teacher of Righteousness, and whether they are to be identified with the Jewish sect of the Essenes mentioned by ancient contemporary writers Josephus, Philo, and Pliny the Elder.
One of the most fascinating chronicles of the initial discovery of the Scrolls and their potential significance, is the extensive New Yorker article by Edmund Wilson “The Scrolls from the Dead Sea,” published in the May 14, 1955 issue–available on-line. If you are interested in learning more about the Scrolls, the Wilson article would be the best place to begin.I have also offered links to additional resources here: “Reading About the Dead Sea Scrolls vs. Reading the Scrolls”
For an overview of my own take on things this video lecture covers most of the basic questions. I have also included below two of the basic handouts that I use in my advanced course on the Scrolls:DSS Fact Sheet
Qumran DSS Group within Judaisms