I was away at a conference the week before Thanksgiving. As many of you know, what I do when I am not here is work in the field of Biblical Archaeology. That week was the annual meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society in Providence, Rhode Island. This is a group of archaeologists and scholars with an evangelical bent towards faith and practice. I served as the Program Chairman for the three days of sessions where colleagues shared results of their recent excavations and research.
We had scheduled a special session about the Dead Sea Scrolls where textual scholars came and shared with us dirt digger-types some of the latest research on those Scrolls and what they tell us about the Biblical text. You probably know that there is nothing among the Dead Sea Scrolls from the New Testament text. Everything there is related to the Old Testament text and a specific religious group (probably the Essenes). At least a fragment of every book of the Old Testament has been identified except Esther.
The speakers were to address the impact of the Scrolls on Biblical studies today. To be honest, if you listen to the Discovery or History Channels, you might get the idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls do not really lend support to the view that our Bible today has been accurately transmitted to us. But these guys shared the most recent research and how it does give us confidence in the text of the Old Testament that has been passed down to us today. In fact, one of these Dead Sea Scroll scholars (usually a pretty dull and technical lot!) was almost enthusiastic about how we can trust the Old Testament text and how clearly it pointed to Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls, written years before the New Testament was composed and even before Jesus was born, made Messianic statements that were fulfilled in Jesus’ coming and have been accurately transmitted to us today.
So, just in case you had some doubts, you can be confident that the Old Testament has been carefully and accurately passed along to us today and that it pointed toward Jesus. We can trust God’s Word and that means we should have a Merry Christmas!
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director