Dead Sea Scrolls Research

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In our R.E. Lesson we discussed how the Books known to Christians as the ‘Old Testament’ are the ‘Hebrew Scriptures’ for Jewish people. Jesus was a Jew and would have been familiar with those Scriptures. ‘Scriptures’ means ‘writings’. The Old Testament is made up of: • The Pentateuch (the first five books, called the ‘Torah’ by the Jewish people). • The Historical books (from Joshua to Maccabees). • The Wisdom books (from Job to Ecclesiasticus). • The Prophets (from Isaiah to Malachi). They show how God gradually revealed himself to his people, as he promised to guide them and give them laws to live by. For Christians, the stories in the Old Testament tell of the events which prepared for the coming of Jesus. Usually the first reading at Mass on Sunday is from the Old Testament. At the Easter Vigil there are a number of readings from the Old Testament which tell the story of God’s loving relationship with his people. We then watched some videos about the Torah and the Dead Sea Scrolls. We talked about how shepherds found these scrolls in clay jars buried in a cave near the Dead Sea. The Scrolls include fragments from every book of the Old Testament, except for the Book of Esther. The only complete book of the Hebrew Bible preserved among the scrolls is Isaiah. This copy, dated to the first century B.C., is considered the earliest Old Testament manuscript still in existence. The children were then given their main activity for the lesson: Getting in small groups and researching the Dead Sea scrolls to present to the class.

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