Posted by: rusch | May 16, 2005

The Dead Sea Scrolls

I was at a “munch and mingle” where I heard a phrase that, had I not been on way out, I would have unloaded on everyone at the table for about an hour. One of the members of our ward said,” Isn’t there something in the Dead Sea scrolls that proves the church is true?” I have recently been studying issues raised by the scrolls and am going to address this phrase here.

The scrolls, along with Apocryphal and Pseudopigraphal writings, are interesting, and have made waves in the academic and thelogical communities and also among Latter-Day Saints. But once it is understood what the scrolls are and are not, much of the conspiracy is debunked.

First, it is true that the scrolls are ancient documents that are of a religious nature. They were carried into the Desert by a sect of Jews known as Esenes, an extreme group that left Jerusalem to form a community based on what was found in the scriptures. Despite some similarities that may be found between what they believed and what we believed, Dr. Andrew Skinner points out that there are also just as many if not more differences in their faith and ours.

The bottom line is that they were not Mormons and reflected the general state of apostasy of the time.

Second, Section ninety-one of the Doctrine and Covenants deals with how we should treat both Apocrypha and Psuedopigraphic documents. Basically this section says that as long as members have the spirit they will benefit from what they read, but that they should bear in mind that these documents contain “many interpolations of men” and therefore are not as reliable as say the Book of Mormon or other books of LDS scripture.

While Biblical scholars argue about the antiquity and authenticity of the books of the New Testament, many Apocryphal writings are confirmed later, being attributed to the fourth fifth and even tenth century AD centuries after the Four gospels and epistles that make up the New Testament were written.

I look at it this way. While these things are interesting, and do contain some truths, all the truth that the documents contain and then some are found in the five standard works. One could spend a lifetime and only learn a fraction of what the scriptures teach.

Thirdly, there is no conspiracy surrounding the scrolls. You can buy translations of the scrolls at most bookstores or at They have been available to the general public for a few decades. They are not being held back. The only thing that would hold you back from getting your own copy would be insufficient funds.

Finally, do they prove the church? The Lord has set forth the way that he proves truth, and that is through the Holy Ghost. If you have not read Temple and Cosmos: Beyond this ignorant present I suggest that you read this book this enlightening book, and pay close attention to what Hugh Nibley says about if all of these ancient documents and similarities between what we believe and what is found other ancient documents prove the Church.

He says that they do not prove the Church. He says that a testimony from the spirit is what proves whether or not the Church is true, and that testimony is non-transferable from one person to another. It must be gained on a individual basis.

In the end, read the Book of Mormon and the other books in LDS cannon, they contain all that you will ever need to know about Jesus and his gospel. If you feel so inclined to read Apocryphal writings, remember the counsel given in section ninety-one and make sure that you have the spirit, otherwise it is very possible to be thrown far astray.


  1. Amen Brother!!–>

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