Once the puzzle of combining the more than 40.000 fragments of scrolls, now published in their totality, is completed, it is the time to fit together the new knowledges with those arriving from other discoveries and with those deriving from already known sources that now need to be reviewed. The new data pose new questions of difficult solution: is there any relation between the scrolls found and the archaeological site nearby?, are these an Essen settlement and library?, do the manuscripts and the cemetery prove anything about the supposed Essen celibate?, are there tombs from women?, how to combine the classic sources (Pliny the Elder, Philon, Josephus) with the information on the scrolls?, who where the Essenes and what relation they had with other Jewish groups, the Sadducees and Pharisees in particular?, where they men of Law, wise men, apocalyptic or mystics?, what groups and tendencies still persist and which disappeared after the destruction of Jerusalem in year 70?, which are their points of contact and rupture between the scrolls and the New Testament?
This introductory conference will deepen in a particular way in the two hundred scrolls that transmit texts of the Hebrew and Greek bible. It will highlight how the biblical books were circulated in several texts and editions, which does not prevent from causing serious problems for the comprehension of both, the Bible and Judaism, and also Christianity. As a consequence of the discoveries, currently there are new editions of the Hebrew Bible and its versions in preparation.
The conference will attempt presenting the general view on the content of the Qumran scrolls, starting from the problems posed by the current classification of the different scrolls. A comparison of the organization of the materials translated from the scrolls of Qumran by Florentino García Martínez published in Spanish in 1992, with the bilingual (Hebrew-Aramaic and English) Study Edition also from Florentino García Martínez published in 2000, should allow us to understand how naming one way or another a literary work, or changing its name, is far from being bland and innocuous activity, but can condition dramatically the way we understand it.
The truth is that very few scrolls have been found in the caves surrounding Qumran that still preserve in a way or another the title of the compositions they contain. As a consequence, the first generation researchers were obliged to give them a title and classify them with the knowledge they possessed, and their knowledge depended on the canonical view of the known religious literature. This explains the basic tripartite division we find in the official publication of the scrolls from the beginning: Biblical texts (those included in the canon), apocryphal or pseudo-epigraphic texts (of less value and authority than the Bible), and essenian or sectarian texts (unknown compositions attributed to those who put together the collection). Nevertheless, once all scrolls have been published it has become very clear that this canonical view is completely anachronistic in the period in which the scroll collection was built. In Qumran we cannot speak about the Bible yet in regards to a fixed number of volumes and to an equally fixed textual shape of each of its books. Qumran proves the presence of writings that were certainly authoritative for those who made the collection, but these writings were not identical to the writings that ultimately would be part of the Bible (the Samaritan Bible, the Jew Bible, or the Christian Bible), and among those authoritative writings we find both compositions classified as apocryphal, and compositions classified as essenian or sectarian. Dividing the texts found between biblical and non-biblical has no sense in the case of the collection from Qumran as there is no Bible in Qumran, but there are authoritative works that end up being considered as revelations. Another fundamental element of the classification of the texts was the relationship with literary genres known from the biblical literature (sapiential, legal, apocalyptic, hymnic, etc., literature) or from the posterior Christian literature (florilegium, catena, testimonium, etc.), while we are now aware about the enormous textual fluency and plurality that can be found in the different copies of the same composition, which sometimes can have different shapes, and even different titles.
A review of the different ways to label the contentes of the different scrolls in the official editions allow acquiring a knowledge on those contents in agreement with the historical reality of the collection.
The Dead Sea scrolls fill a hole of information affecting the centuries surrounding the change of era, when Judaism took shape and Christianity was born. They present very diverse Judaisms or groups and cults that cohabited and identified themselves as Jews, with a range that made possible the apparition of new movements like the Judaeo-Christian. The impact of the discovery in Qumran in the general public has been disproportionally focused in the possible relations between these new texts and the New Testament, in reference to John the Baptist, to the messianism of Jesus and the title "son of God", to the dualism of John's gospel, or to the "works of Law" by Paul. We will present the specific contact points among the Qumran texts and the gospels, as well as the reading perspectives by the Jew scholars of the foundational texts of early Christianity, specifically around the figure of Logos, Memrá or Aρχή. In opposition to the view of Judaism and Christianity being two religions separated in a first moment without any contact between them, these discoveries highlight the maintenance of transfers between one and the other along the centuries in which Jews and Christians forged their identity, without neglecting the the incorporation of elements from other religions of the ancient world, coming from Iran, Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Rome.