THE NATURE OF THE SCROLLS
Over 900 individual documents are represented among the Qumran scrolls. They cover a great range of content and genre, but almost all of the preserved scrolls are literary works of a religious nature. These include copies of biblical texts, so-called parabiblical works, wisdom literature, legal texts, prayers, magic, and a few documentary texts (accounts, writing exercises, and so on). Other sites in the Judean Desert have yielded similar finds in less abundance.
The Qumran scrolls may be divided generally between biblical texts, sectarian texts, and others. Some of these writings were produced elsewhere and brought to the site; some (particularly the biblical texts) were produced elsewhere but copied by the Qumran scribes; the sectarian texts were produced by the sectarians themselves, presumably at the site. Because the Bible is so central to the literary productivity of ancient Judaism, it is useful to first consider the nature of the scrolls in the context of the Hebrew Bible.