Alison Schofield, a professor of religious and Judaic studies from the University of Denver, is working on a new translation of the ancient scroll. She hopes to get a rare look at Judaism and Christianity from the time of Jesus.
The Dead Sea Scrolls contain some of the oldest copies of the Bible and Jewish literature from the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, when the Jewish population rebelled against the Roman Empire and was brutally massacred by Roman forces fighting under Emperor Titus. It was the first major excavation for the Dead Sea Scrolls since the manuscripts were discovered in the 1947 in the mountain caves of Qumran. However, Schofield and her colleagues are continuously excavating new pieces of the scroll since 2012 with improved technology. They want to unveil new information from 12 of the caves around the Dead Sea for fragments.
Schofield is working on piecing old scroll fragments and news fragments together to get a more comprehensive manuscript. This will allow her to better interpret the scrolls’ meaning.
“Every day I wake up thinking, I am really just amazed that I have this opportunity to work with these scrolls that were written by so many hands 2,000 years ago. To hear those ancient voices and to be able to share those ancient voices with people is a great opportunity”, Schofield says.
The scrolls tell about the origins of Judaism and the branching off of Christianity. One of the most recent published translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls was printed in 2002 by authors Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. The translation unveils information about prophets and pseudo-prophets, biblical interpretations of Genesis, ancient hymns and divination.
Recently, analysis of 30 excavated graves near the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered supports the theory that the Qumran Caves were settled 2,200 years ago by a sect of celibate men whose rituals were detailed by ancient historians Josephus and Philo.
One of the researchers said. “I don’t know if these were the people who produced the Qumran region’s Dead Sea Scrolls, but the high concentration of adult males of various ages buried at Qumran is similar to what has been found at cemeteries connected to Byzantine monasteries.”