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Dead Sea Scrolls Resources: Getting Started

This guide will provide students with a broad overview of the literature about the Dead Sea Scrolls including electronic resources, readers and study editions, calendars and translations.

Starting Your Research

  1. Define your topic and construct search terms

a) Identify the main concepts you’re interested in.  Sometimes it helps to construct a question you want to answer.

                    ex. Why is the book of Esther is the only book of the Hebrew scriptures not preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls? How do scholars explain  this?

      2. Construct keywords and test them as search terms.  Use controlled vocabularies to find more precise terms.

                        ex.  keywords: Esther and Second Century 

If there are too many sources, narrow your topic.
If there are too few sources, broaden your topic.

       3. Find background information.

Encyclopedias, dictionaries, commentaries and other reference sources are all good sources for background information. Many have bibliographies that provide other places to search. While background information does not replace more in-depth research, it often makes that research more productive by providing a context into which to place your topic.

4. Find sources: books, articles, web sites.

5. Evaluate your sources.

Plenty of information is available, but not all of it is accurate or reputable. Cornell maintains a useful guide discussing both initial factors and content considerations for determining the value of a source:

• Initial factors include an author’s credentials in the area under consideration, the date of publication, the edition, the quality of the publisher, and the intended audience (scholarly or popular) of the work. In addition to the intended audience, content considerations include the style of discussion used by the author, the coverage of the topic at hand, whether or not the writing is clear and logical, and how the source has been evaluated by book reviews or other sources.

6. Construct your project and cite your sources.

The Center for Theological Writing maintains a page of grammar considerations, citation information, and guidelines for avoiding plagiarism:


Welcome to the Dead Sea Scrolls Resource page. This guide has links to resources in the Duke libraries, as well as online resources.


When Bedouin shepherds discovered the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, one of the most fascinating mysteries of ancient history was exposed. Embedded in the 850 manuscripts eventually uncovered were questions about everything from the Qumran community that produced the scrolls to their impact on our understanding of biblical studies. Why were the scrolls preserved in caves? What do they reveal about such contemporary events as the life and death of Jesus, the rise of Talmudic Judaism, and the flourishing of the Essenes, Pharisees, and other Second Temple groups? (Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls)

Title / Description: Qumran (finds): manuscript (Genesis Apocryphon)
Provenance: Qumran, Israel
Object Type: image - manuscript
Date: 2nd c. BCE - 1st c. CE

Commentary: Genesis Apocryphon from Cave 1 (1QapGen). Photograph is Figure 1 in the editio princeps: Nahman Avigad and Yigael Yadin, A Genesis Apocryphon. Jerusalem, 1956. "The unopened scroll. Right: the badly preserved side ; Left: The better preserved side of the Scroll."
Source: Burrows, Millar Millar Burrows slide collection
Reference: QUMRAN (finds): manuscript. EIKO Image Database. Yale Divinity School Library.