Here is the abstract for the first essay to be discussed in our seminar tomorrow:
The site of Khirbet Qumran, the ruins located near to the caves in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, has for the last half-century been the source of much debate and disagreement between scholars. In this paper, the main theory regarding Khirbet Qumran shall be considered -- that which interprets the ruins as the site of a sectarian community. It shall be seen that there is a variety of evidence from the ruins to support this theory, which was first proposed by R. de Vaux when he led a series of excavations in the 1950s, and the connections between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the ruins shall also be considered. Among those who support the sectarian theory, it is often suggested that it was in fact a group of Essenes, and the reasons for this connection shall also be discussed. However, it is important to remember that not everyone agrees with these suggestions, and therefore the paper shall turn to the idea of the ruins as being the site of a villa, to see what grounds there are for taking this view. Finally, the cemetery located near the ruins shall be looked at, as the evidence found here can provide important information regarding whichever theory one chooses to support.