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Catholic Dictionary




A collection of manuscripts and numerous fragments excavated in 1947 at the site of the ancient Qumran community, located close tot he Dead Sea in Palestine. The principal texts include a set of rules for a monastic community, namely, The Manual of Discipline, A Zadokite Document (discovered earlier in Cairo), and a Formulary of Blessings; two collections of hymns; several commentaries on the Books of Micah, Nahum, and Habakuk; a long oration of Moses; and epic on The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness; and a manual for the future congregation of Israel, the so-called Messianic Banquet. Conservative scholarship holds that the scrolls were composed at various dates between 170 B.C. and A.D. 68. There is in the Dead Sea Scrolls no trace of any of the principal doctrines of Christianity: the Incarnation or the universality of the Messianic Kingdom. But there are many affinities that have shed much light on the meaning of the Christian faith, notably in revealing the existence of an ascetical community, similar to the Essenes, in first-century Palestine.