Cultural Revolutions

The Dead Sea Scrolls Controversy

The Dead Sea Scrolls controversy is not—as some have argued—about Christianity fearing for its life in the face of new and dreadful facts. The claim that the Scrolls contain information that calls into question Christian verities is pure poppycock. So is the spurious charge of some British mountebanks that the Vatican tried to suppress the Scrolls. Vatican-bashing carries remarkably slight conviction, which is surprising when one considers that Roman Catholic scholars did more to publish the Scrolls than any other religious group. No, the suppression of the Dead Sea Scrolls had nothing to do with protecting Christianity.

Christianity, like every other great religion, rests not on historical facts but supernatural revelation, and those who believe the Scrolls constitute a missing link between Judaism and Christianity (post facto categories) that calls into question the originality of Christianity profoundly misunderstand the character of religion in general, Christianity in particular. Christianity was born on the first Easter; it arose from the grave of Jesus Christ, rewriting the entire past of Israel and humanity alike. No fragment from a long-lost cave has any bearing at all on that simple fact of faith—or ever will.

The suppression of the Scrolls had everything to do with the pretensions of a self-important cabal of arrogant nonentities. The scandal involving the suppression of the Scrolls until the...

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