Professor Rachel Elior, an Israeli scholar has brought into question research claiming the Dead Sea Scrolls were authored by the Essenes. She claims
the supposed sect never existed.
Her research could blow a big hole in the whole Hebraic roots/messianic/Judeo-Christian movement. But she is far from being the first scholar to question the Essene spin:
New York University's Professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies, Lawrence H. Schiffman has focused his research on showing that the Dead Sea Scrolls are Jewish texts and have no relevance or connection to pre-Christian themes. With regards to other archeaological findings in Israel he says, "we need to guard against repeating mistakes made with the Dead Sea Scrolls, looking too hard to find pre-Christian themes based on a word here or there."
Chicago University's Professer of Jewish history, Dr. Norman Golb
, has been a long-time proponent of the opinion that the Qumran Scrolls were not the product of the Essenes, but rather of various Jewish communities of ancient Israel. He's written a book Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls
? His son was recently accused of identify theft over this issue.
Christian scholars are very nervous right now. Qumran is all they have. Also this research brings into question much of what has been written about John the Baptist and the origins of baptism. The only other evidence of an ancient Christian presence in Israel dates to the 4th century. Even the inscription on the "3rd century" Megiddo "church"
may have been paid for by a Roman officer and archaeologists are saying evidence points to a 4th century structure.
Scholars like Joshua Efron feel that Qumran has been falsely used to prove that Christianity was a natural outgrowth and "successor' or "logical continuation" of Judaism, when in fact Christianity is a completely different faith and "Jesus symbolizes a completely new belief"
I note that the research of the Essene-camp scholars, like James H. Charlesworth, Gabriele Boccaccini , and Hanan Eshel, is funded by Christian and New Testament study departments at major universities, as well as institutes which encourage a "Judeo-Christian" religious perspective.
A couple of years ago a respected expert in the field the archaeology in Israel told this writer that he feared biblical and ancient Jewish history was being rewritten due to a lack of funding coming from Jewish sources, coupled with the enthusiasm and dollars coming from the evangelical Christian sector. He also mentioned that Israel's economic dependency on evangelical tourism was a contributing factor to the new spin (gotta keep those visitors enraptured). He said researchers and academic institutions in Israel were under a lot of pressure and as a result were in an ethical (and economic) quandary.