This landmark reference work is the first of its kind. Featuring 450 articles by an international community of scholars it is the definitive account of what we know about the Dead Sea Scrolls--their history, relevance, meaning, and the controversies that surround them. Discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd, the collection of 800 manuscripts is older than any other collection of manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures by almost one thousand years. What do the scrolls tell us about the people who wrote them? What do they tell us about early Christianity andSecond Temple Judaism? How do they confirm or contradict what we thought we knew about the Bible? With contributions from 100 distinguished scholars representing diverse traditions and fields of learning, this volume offers the most comprehensive critical synthesis of current knowledge about the Dead Sea Scrolls--and their historical, archaeological, linguistic, and religious contexts.Written in non-technical language this reference work provides authoritative answers and information for all readers.