The Great Isaiah Scroll remains one of the most compelling archeological finds that support the Bible. In the 1940s, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the caves of Qumran, a copy of the Book of Isaiah was among 1,100 ancient documents and over 100,000 fragments found. Remarkably, a portion of every book of the Old Testament was recovered with the exception of the Book of Esther.
Amazingly, the Book of Isaiah was found completely intact! Spanning over 25,000 words makes it one of the longest books of the Bible, so finding a complete copy was quite extraordinary.
The Book of Isaiah by itself extremely important to the Christian faith because it contains 19 Messianic prophesies that point directly to Jesus. Prior to finding what would be known as the Great Isaiah Scroll, the earliest manuscript evidence for the book was dated approximately 900 A.D. That’s almost a millennium after Jesus.
This became a talking point for Bible skeptics. The claim was that since the earliest known copy was dated after the alleged life of Jesus, it could have been written after Him. Obviously, you can’t fulfill a prophecy if it’s recorded after the event.
This was a pivotal moment for the Christian faith. Skeptics stood by as the scroll and other fragments were sent for testing. Both the dating and the text of the Great Isaiah Scroll had the potential to either solidify claims that the Old Testament scripture was sound and unchanged over time.
“Did You Know?” segment by Jason D’Ambrosio on the Dead Sea Scrolls including the Great Isaiah Scroll.
Multiple tests were performed on the documents. Being that they had a full copy, scientists wanted to confirm the dating but also the content. The book of Isaiah had been part of the Masoretic texts dated in the 10th century. If the Isaiah scroll found in the cave was dated earlier and the actual text was different, this would cast a huge shadow on the Bible’s credibility. It would back the claim that the Bible was changed as it past through human hands.
What they found...
Like the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Great Isaiah Scroll was tested in 3 areas.
– paleography (language)
– orthograpy (word structure/spelling)
– carbon 14 (dating of specimens)
If all of these types of test came back authentic, it would be a huge win for validating both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.
What they discovered was truly amazing! The dating of the Isaiah scroll was confirmed to around 100 BC. But, what was even more remarkable was the content itself.
Despite the 1000 year gap, the copies of the Great Isaiah Scroll and that of the Masoretic texts were found to be identical, minus a few very minor spelling differences.
The findings meant that the content of the text was virtually unchanged for a millennium and more importantly, the comparison study showed that the prophesies of Isaiah about Jesus as the Messiah predate His life.
The late respected theologian, Gleason Archer, had this to say about the Great Isaiah Scroll in relation to the Masoretic text. He stated:
“Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text.”
The Great Isaiah Scroll is further proof of the validity of the Bible. It is among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is one of the most impactful archeological discoveries known to man in regards to the Christian Holy Book.