(ABCNEWS.GO) — Geza Vermes, a translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and renowned for books exploring the Jewish background of Jesus, has died at 88.

He died on Wednesday, David Ariel, president of the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, said Saturday.

Vermes had an early interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls, a cache of documents written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200 which were discovered in caves at Qumran, near Jericho, between 1947 and 1956. Vermes published the first English translation of the scrolls in 1962.

The scrolls gave an insight to Jewish practices and thought at the time Jesus was preaching, and they informed a series of books by Vermes on the historical Jesus.

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