Brian W. Davidson

teacher @highlandslatin,

PhD candidate @sbts,

research expert @sbtslibrary

DSS Software: Necessary Background Information

This is the first post of a series in which I will review the Dead Sea Scrolls resources available in Logos, BibleWorks, Accordance, and in Brill's Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library. I posted my plan for the series, but if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments. A little background information is necessary in order to understand the differences between the products offered by each company.


In the broad sense of the term, "Dead Sea Scrolls" is not synonymous with "Qumran Scrolls."  Many of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at Qumran, but not all of them. In fact, fragments of scrolls were found in at least eighteen locations: Qumran, Wadi Daliyeh, Ketef Jericho, Khirbet Mird, Ain Feshka, Wadi Nar, Wadi Ghweir, Wadi Murabbaʿat, Wadi Sdeir, Naḥal Arugot, Ein-gedi, Naḥal Ḥever, Naḥal Ḥever/Seiyal, Naḥal Mishmar, Naḥal Ṣeʾelim, Masada, and Khirbet Qazone (Ken M. Penner, "Dead Sea Scrolls" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible, Oxford, 2011, pp. 173-192).

The number of scrolls found at the four main locations are as follows:

  • Qumran: about 1,050 scrolls
  • Wadi Murabbaʿat: 120 scrolls
  • Naḥal Ḥever: over 70 scrolls
  • Masada: 15 scrolls

(Peter W. Flint, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Abingdon Press, 2013, p. XX)


Most of the scrolls were written in Hebrew, about 130 in Aramaic, and 27 in Greek (Penner, 174).

Two Categories

Scrolls are typically categorized as biblical or "non-biblical." Peter W. Flint explains,

The number of biblical scrolls available to scholars is 270, comprising 252 from Qumran and 18 from other sites... The grand total of biblical scrolls is 318, of which about 300 were most likely found at Qumran. About 48 (perhaps a few less scrolls are held by private parties and will most likely be 'on the market' in future years. (p. 74)

About 750 of the 1,050 Qumran scrolls are non-biblical. The scrolls discovered at Wadi Murabbaʿat are mixed bag, most of those at Naḥal Ḥever are "letters and legal documents of the second century," and at Masada 8 of the 15 scroll fragments are non-biblical (see Flint, p. 9).

"Sectarian Scrolls"

The non-biblical scrolls are sometimes further divided into sectarian and non-sectarian scrolls. Flint states,

At least half of the nonbiblical scrolls, probably more, represent texts composed by the Essene (Yahad) movement. Containing the movement's ideology or distinctive language, these are known as the sectarian scrolls... It is tempting to neatly divide the nonbiblical scrolls into sectarian and nonsectarian groupings, but in many cases this proves unworkable since identifying sectarian content and language is often not possible. (p. 105)

With this background in mind, the next post will look at which DSS texts are available in each platform.


Peter W. Flint on Greek at Qumran

Review of DSS Software