Dead Sea Scrolls Stump the Critics of Isaiah & Daniel
- The Old Testament books of Isaiah and Daniel were favorite targets of the
critics. This was probably because these two books in particular contain
much predictive prophecy. They contain many messianic prophecies that were
fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Up until 1947, the earliest manuscripts that we had of Isaiah and Daniel
in their original languages, only dated from the tenth century A.D. These
were part of the Masoretic text of the Old testament. The Masoretic text was
transcribed by very meticulous, religious Jews called Masoretes
("transmitters") who were amazingly thorough in their copyist protocols.
Liberal textural criticism of the Bible was dealt a major blow when, in
January of 1947, Mohammed ed-Dib, a Bedouin goat herder, stumbled upon a cave
in an area called Qumran, just northwest of the Dead Sea. He found
ancient manuscripts stored in clay jars in the cave. He took some of them back to
his village and hung them on a pole and later took them to several
antiquities dealers who offered a variety of opinions as to their worth.
These first manuscripts were passed around perilously for months among
various antiquities dealers and religious authorities. Due to the instability
of the region and the intervention of the Israeli War of Independence in
1948-49 it was about two years before what was to become known as Cave 1 was
explored by archaeologists. The gem of Cave 1 was a superb scroll of the
book of Isaiah which was well preserved and over 24 feet long.
Ten other caves containing ancient manuscripts were discovered and
excavated up until 1956. Cave 4 was the outstanding find and yielded more
manuscripts and fragments than all of the other caves put together. Cave 3 yielded
the famous copper scroll.
Almost a quarter of the manuscripts and fragments are of Old Testament
Bible books. Every one of the 39 Old Testament books is represented except the
book of Esther. The other manuscripts and fragments are of apocryphal
books, sectarian teachings and commentaries.
Most of the Hebrew is written in the Hebrew block script that is of an
ancient style yet is similar to the Hebrew script that is still in use today.
The Hebrew block script is actually the same as the Assyrian Imperial
Aramaic script and it was adopted by the Jewish people during the captivity in
Babylon in the sixth century BC. Ironically, this means that the Hebrew
script used today is actually of Gentile origin. Hebrew and Aramaic use the
A small percentage of the Hebrew is in the old Paleo-Hebrew lettering
which was used, according to scholars, as far back as 1000 B.C. I suspect that
the Paleo-Hebrew style of lettering was used as far back as Moses himself.
I went to an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the New York Public
Library in midtown Manhattan some years ago. It was thrilling to see the
manuscripts on display with their ancient lettering and parchment. If there is ever
such an exhibition near you, I highly recommend you make every effort to
What concerns us is the fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the
accuracy of the transmittal of the Bible's ancient manuscripts by the ancient
copyists. The book of Isaiah, of which 22 manuscripts were found, is more than
95% word for word the same as the Masoretic text. The other 5%, which
contains minor variants, is mostly spelling differences and apparent slips of
the pen that do not alter doctrinal teaching.
The famous 53rd chapter of Isaiah, which consists of a strikingly
predictive messianic prophecy in which it is predicted that the coming Messiah
would bear the sins of the people and die and rise from the dead, contains
several spelling variants and the addition of one word. The extra word found in
the Dead Sea Scroll version of Isaiah 53 is just three letters long and is
the Hebrew word for "light" and it appears in verse eleven of that chapter.
Verse eleven of Isaiah 53 in the New American Standard Bible reads "As a
result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied . . . "
The word 'it' in this verse is where the Hebrew word for "light" appears in
the Isaiah scrolls of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The New American Standard
translators make the notation: "Another reading is, light" in the margin of
their Bible, regarding the word 'it' in this verse.
Bible scholar Michael L. Brown and others believe that a reading of Isaiah
53:11 "He will see light and be satisfied" could be a reference to the
resurrection of Christ. The only other prediction of the resurrection of
Christ that I can see in Isaiah 53 is in verse ten which reads in part "He will
see His offspring, He will prolong His days" (Is. 53:10 NAS).
The eight partial manuscripts of Daniel do much to buttress the high
position of Daniel as a divinely inspired book of the Bible. Daniel is the only
book of the Old Testament that is partially written in Aramaic. The Aramaic
portion of Daniel in the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts is clearly the more
ancient form of Aramaic. This serves to place the original writing of Daniel
in the sixth century BC which is consistent with conservative Bible
scholarship. The older Aramaic of Daniel is very distinct from the Aramaic of the
Dead Sea scroll second century BC nonbiblical manuscripts.
The Dead Sea Scrolls have had and continue to have a strong impact on
biblical Jewish and Christian scholarship. The evidence clearly supports a high
view of the accuracy of Bible manuscript preservation and transmittal. The
Dead Sea Scroll manuscript evidence refutes the critic's claim that
prophetic portions of the Bible were written after the fulfillments. We have
predictive prophecies that were fulfilled by Christ actually on parchment that
is dated before the birth of Christ! This is a gift of God to the modern
world and serves to prove the divine inspiration of the Bible.
Only Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the Bible prophecies that foretold that
the Messiah would die for our sins. Forgiveness of sins is given only
through faith in Christ because Christ is the only person in all of world history
who took upon Himself the penalty of our sins. Invite Jesus into your
heart today. Receive Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord.
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said "Ye must be born again." (John 3:7)
1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah
(Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
2) Believe that Jesus the Messiah came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible
prophecies to die for you and take upon Himself the penalty of your sins.
(Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18)
3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness.
4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth. (John 1:12, Acts
5) Follow Him as Lord. (John 14:21)
Prayer to receive salvation:
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for you at the terrible cost
of His suffering and death on your behalf I invite you to pray this simple
prayer: "Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised
Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my
sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me
to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen."
If you prayed that prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you
have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this
life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!
Bill Nugent, Overcomer Ministries of West Harrison, New York, USA
New Christian book, Lawful or Legalistic
by Bill Nugent available in paperback!
Info and ordering link available on his website:
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]