The Dead Sea Scrolls continue to shed new light on the religious history of the Second Temple Period. This unique library also describes many of the most significant historical events of this time. Although most research has focused on the religious content of these texts and their possible Essene authorship, relatively little attention has been paid to their historical and political contents. Although over 900 scrolls were found in the caves inside and around the settlement of Khirbet Qumran, relatively few contain proper names. Only eighteen names of identifiable persons appear in these texts, while other fragments possibly contain two additional names. There are, moreover, several other Dead Sea Scrolls that contain clearly identifiable references or allusions to Second Temple persons and historical events. These documents provide a wealth of new historical information that supplements the writings of Josephus, 1 & 2 Maccabees, and the classical sources. They suggest that the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were familiar with historical traditions, likely both oral and written, that have not survived. This makes the Dead Sea Scrolls an invaluable source for understanding and reconstructing the history of the Second Temple Period.
The writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls frequently used sobriquets and concealed references to describe and interpret significant historical events. Although these texts are often difficult to decipher, a number of scrolls contain clearly recognizable allusions to persons and historical events of the Second Temple Period. This study seeks to highlight some of the contributions of the Dead Sea Scrolls for understanding the history of the Second Temple Period through an examination of all explicit references and probable allusions to foreigners in these writings. These texts suggest that our primary sources for this period are often biased and fail to recount historical events in a factual manner. The Dead Sea Scrolls—many of which were likely written at the same time or shortly after the events they document—should be viewed as a major source of historical information for the Second Temple Period. In some instances the evidence they provide should be preferred to the historical accounts contained in our extant sources.
Department of History
Original Publication Date
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UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
©2013 Enigma Press. Permission to post the article to the institutional repository granted by the publisher.
Atkinson, Kenneth, "Historical References and Allusions to Foreigners in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Seleucids, Ptolemies, Nabateans, Itureans, and Romans in the Qumran Corpus" (2013). Faculty Publications. 5539.