Do the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Bible was modified over time?



You have answered my questions before (thanks for that) and I hope you won't mind doing so again.

I was researching the Dead Sea Scrolls and came across the following:

The Quora answer (if you click "Continue reading") quotes authors who basically say that the Bible has been altered quite a lot by scribes etc. It suggests that Daniel and Genesis were constructed or modified over time.

The second link says that additional prophecies were found in the scrolls that don't appear in the current Bible. How do we know that our Bible is correct? Are we to trust that God has preserved the correct version, are these authors wrong, or is there something else I'm missing?

I have to confess that these things caused me serious doubts, and I am concerned and ashamed that I may have committed apostasy or fallen away as in Hebrews 6 as my mind added 'if you exist' to my prayers to God. I might have even said I wasn't a believer when I was doubting the most. There are possibly others that I can't recall at present too.

What do you think?


Just because something appears on the Internet, it doesn't mean it is true. You are only seeing one person's thoughts. In academic research, there is an important concept of credible sources. Quora is an open forum. Anyone can write anything. Other readers vote on whether they like what someone wrote. But none of this gives any reassurance of accuracy. Truth is not up for votes. The majority's opinions do not make something true.

Now, in the case of the Quora post, the author describes himself as a secular humanist who dabbles in studying different religions. So far, this doesn't give me any assurance that the person is accurate or even knowledgeable about the Bible. One of the major mistakes the author makes is treating all manuscripts found as if they were all biblical documents. Suppose my library of books were buried and preserved for centuries. Would you conclude that all my books were considered to be sacred texts by me? I have shelves with various Bible translations (some good, some bad). I have far more books on various biblical topics. I have commentaries and other reference books. I even have books written by false teachers so that I can quote them accurately when refuting them. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a portion of a religious community's library. As with any library, you have to classify what kind of book each scroll or fragment represented. For a good discussion of this, see "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible" written by a credible author (look up his credentials).

Another error I noted is the assumption that the Hebrew Bible was put together after the first century. However, we know the Hebrew Bible existed for centuries before the Dead Sea Scrolls were written.

A third error is made by ignoring the fact that the Dead Seas Scrolls are mostly fragmentary. Thus, the author assumes that if a portion of a book is not found among the scrolls, then it didn't exist at the time.

Finally, there is the error that the Dead Sea Scrolls are not the only ancient witness to the text of the Old Testament. We have a number of ancient translations of the Hebrew text. These combine with the scrolls to tell us about the state of the Hebrew manuscripts. These ancient translations definitely do not support the claim that the text was radically modified.

Regarding the 6 Myths article, you missed a key statement: "And while the Dead Sea Scrolls are older, scholars debate the authority of the variants found in the scrolls because the people who wrote and collected the Dead Sea Scrolls appear to have treated nonbiblical writings much the same as they treated what has been traditionally accepted as Hebrew Scripture." Thus, while there are additional passages attributed to some of the major prophets, the question is whether they were actually written by the prophet or added by someone and this community just accepted them (or collect them) without discrimination. The fact that these same passages don't appear in ancient translations from the Hebrew text is an indication that they are suspect.

See: Can We Trust the Text of the Bible?

In regards to worries about apostasy, see Can you explain what "if we sin willfully" in Hebrews 10:26 means?


Thanks for your reply, Jeffrey.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email