Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center/Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

The war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness, a Dead Sea Scroll shown both as found (seen here) and after unrolling (see next photo), describes an epic battle at the end of days. This and other Dead Sea Scrolls, notably the Rule of the Community, display a thoroughgoing dualism: The world is seen as divided into light and darkness, sons of light and sons of darkness, truth and deceit, everlasting life and extinction.

The Gospel of John frequently echoes the dualism of the scrolls and sometimes even uses the same technical terms. In one typical passage that would have been perfectly at home in a Dead Sea Scroll, John writes, “For all who do evil hate the light, and do not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been accomplished through God” (John 3:20–21).