Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls :
The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise roughly 850 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the Wadi Qumran, near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The texts are of great significance, as they are practically the only remaining Biblical documents dating from before A.D. 100.
The most well-known texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls are the ancient religious writings found in eleven caves near the site of Qumran.
Qumran Caves Scrolls
The Qumran Caves Scrolls contain significant religious literature. They consist of two types: “biblical” manuscripts—books found in today’s Hebrew Bible, and “non-biblical” manuscripts—other religious writings circulating during the Second Temple era, often related to the texts now in the Hebrew Bible. Of this second category, some are considered “sectarian” in nature, since they appear to describe the religious beliefs and practices of a specific religious community.
Scroll dates range from the third century bce (mid–Second Temple period) to the first century of the Common Era, before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 ce. While Hebrew is the most frequently used language in the Scrolls, about 15% were written in Aramaic and several in Greek. The Scrolls’ materials are made up mainly of parchment, although some are papyrus, and the text of one Scroll is engraved on copper.
Biblical Manuscripts : About 230 manuscripts are referred to as “biblical Scrolls”. These are copies of works that are now part of the Hebrew Bible. They already held a special status in the Second Temple period, and were considered to be vessels of divine communication. Evidence suggests that the Scrolls' contemporary communities did not have a unified conception of an authoritative collection of scriptural works. The idea of a closed biblical “canon” only emerged later in the history of these sacred writings.
Among the Scrolls are partial or complete copies of every book in the Hebrew Bible (except the book of Esther). About a dozen copies of some of these holy books were written in ancient paleo-Hebrew (the script of the First Temple era, not the standard script of the time).
Many biblical manuscripts closely resemble the Masoretic Text, the accepted text of the Hebrew Bible from the second half of the first millennium ce until today. This similarity is quite remarkable, considering that the Qumran Scrolls are over a thousand years older than previously identified biblical manuscripts.
Strikingly, some biblical manuscripts feature differences from the standard Masoretic biblical language and spelling. Additions and deletions in certain texts imply that the writers felt free to modify texts they were copying.
Non-Biblical Manuscripts : The Qumran Caves Scrolls preserve a large range of Jewish religious writings from the Second Temple period, including parabiblical texts, exegetical texts, hymns and prayers, wisdom texts, apocalyptic texts, calendrical texts, and others. Some of the works discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls were known previously, having been preserved in translation since Second Temple times. The term "Pseudepigrapha" was used for these works, such as the book of Jubilees which was known in Ethiopic and Greek versions before being found in Hebrew in the Qumran caves. Many other non-biblical works were previously unknown.
Scholars agree that some of this literature was valued by large segments of the Jewish population, while other works reflect the beliefs of specific sub-groups. There is disagreement, however, about many other aspects of these texts, including which communities are represented and how those communities may have interacted with one another.
Main Source : The Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library: