Until recently, most scholars would say that the Essenes wrote the documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. This view was first proposed by Roland de Vaux, the archaeologist who found the scrolls. However, another theory has been proposed for the authorship of the scrolls.
In an article published in The Wall Street Journal, these two theories are discussed in detail. The article describes the two theories as follows:
There are two competing theories about the scrolls. The first is that they belonged to a single religious sect living nearby the caves, most likely the Essenes. The second theory is that the scrolls are a random collection of texts reflecting the beliefs of many Jewish groups of the period; the caves, under this theory, are a repository for sacred texts from various Jewish communities fleeing the Romans during the Jewish revolt of A.D. 68.
The debate continues. Norman Golb, Professor of History and Civilization at the University of Chicago is a leading proponent of the second theory. The article in The Wall Street Journal provides some of the arguments in defense of the second theory.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran