Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English

Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English

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by Martin G., Jr. Abegg Jr., Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich
     
 

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From the dramatic find in the caves of Qumran, the world's most ancient version of the Bible allows us to read the scriptures as they were in the time of Jesus.

Overview

From the dramatic find in the caves of Qumran, the world's most ancient version of the Bible allows us to read the scriptures as they were in the time of Jesus.

Editorial Reviews

Southwestern Journal of Theology
“All those who want to know what the Bible really says will want this book. They will sing, ‘Hallelujah!’”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060600648
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/28/2002
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
672
Sales rank:
201,536
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.07(d)
Age Range:
15 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

At the time of Jesus and rabbi Hillel — the origins of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism — there was, and there was not, a "Bible." This critical period, and the nature of the Bible in that period, have been freshly illuminated by the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls.

There was a Bible in the sense that there were certain sacred books widely recognized by Jews as foundational to their religion and supremely authoritative for religious practice. There was not, however, a Bible in the sense that the leaders of the general Jewish community had specifically considered, debated, and definitively decided the full range of which books were supremely and permanently authoritative and which ones — no matter how sublime, useful, or beloved — were not. The collection or collections of the Scriptures varied from group to group and from time to time. All Jews would have recognized "the Law" (the Torah) and most would have recognized "the Prophets" as belonging to that collection. Such a recognition is attested by references in the New Testament to the "Law and the Prophets" (Matt 7:12; Luke 16:16; and Rom 3:21). But the exact contents of "the Prophets" may not have been the same for all, and the status of other books beyond "the Law and the Prophets" was neither clear nor widely accepted. The notion of a wider collection of Scriptures that extended beyond the Law and Prophets is suggested by an intriguing passage in Luke 24, which says that "everything written about me [i.e., Jesus] in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms must be fulfilled" (vs. 44).

The Dead Sea Scrolls help us see the state of affairs more clearly from an on-the-spot perspective. "The Bible," or more accurately then, "the Scriptures," would have been a collection of numerous separate scrolls, each containing usually only one or two books. There is indeed persuasive evidence that certainbooks were considered "Scripture." But there is little evidence that people wereseriously asking the question yet about the extent or the limits of the collection — the crucial question for a "Bible" or "canon" — which books are in and which books are outside this most sacred collection.

Thus, The Dead Sea Scrolls Scriptures may be a more historically accurate title for this volume. At any rate, it presents the remains of the books for which there is good evidence that Jews at that time viewed them as Sacred Scripture.

The "Bibles" Used Today

The word "Bible" has different meanings for different people and groups. The most obvious difference in content is between the Bible of Judaism (i.e., the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) and that of Christianity, which contains both the Old and New Testaments. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible does not include any New Testament books for one simple reason: by the time the vast majority of the scrolls had been copied (in 68 CE), the New Testament was only beginning to be written. Not surprisingly, then, there are no copies of New Testament books among the scrolls.

The list of books included in a Bible is termed a "canon." There are three main canons in the different Bibles used today (see Figure 1):

1. The Jewish Bible (or Tanak) contains twenty-four books in three sections: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings.

2. The Protestant Old Testament contains the same books as the Tanak, but in four sections and in a different order: the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Poetical Books, and the Prophets. In addition, the Protestant canon contains thirty-nine books, not twenty-four, because it counts separately several books that comprise single books in the Jewish Bible. For example, the one Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Jewish canon becomes the twelve books of the Minor Prophets in the Protestant Bible.

3. The Roman Catholic Old Testament contains exactly the same four divisions and thirty-nine books as the Protestant Bible, but also includes further writings. Seven of these are entire books (Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, and Baruch [which includes the Letter of Jeremiah]); the others are sections added to Esther (the Additions to Esther) and to Daniel (the Prayer of Azariah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon). For Catholics, these additional writings are part of the Bible and are thus known as the "deuterocanonical books" (that is, a second group of canonical books). However, Jews and most Protestants do not view these writings as Scripture, labeling them the "Apocrypha" (plural of "Apocryphon"), which means "hidden books."

Some scholars believe that these books are not in the Jewish and Protestant canons because they are later than most other biblical books (Daniel being an exception), while others point to their supposed secular or unorthodox content as the reason for exclusion. The real explanation, however, is more complicated and goes back to two ancient Bibles. Early Christians accepted the Greek Septuagint, which contains these additional books, as their Old Testament, while early Rabbis finalized the list of books for the Hebrew Bible in the second century CE. It is these two early collections (the shorter Hebrew one and the longer Greek one) that determine which books are included in the Bibles used by modern Jews, Protestants, and Catholics. Jews, followed by Protestants, regard the shorter collection as Scripture, whereas Catholics accept a larger canon that includes apocryphal/deuterocanonical writings found in the Septuagint.

Three Old Bibles

All modern Bibles are translations of older texts. The Scriptures used by most readers of this book (whether Jewish, Protestant, or Roman Catholic) are based on much older manuscripts that have been translated into English. The three most important of these older Bibles are known as the "Masoretic Text" (MT), the "Septuagint" (LXX), and the "Samaritan Pentateuch" (SP). Scholars believe that the books in these three texts are from pre-Christian times, but unfortunately no really early manuscripts were available before the discovery of...

Meet the Author

Martin Abegg Jr. is co-director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University in British Columbia. He is one of the translators of The Dead Sea Scrolls (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996).

Peter Flint is co-director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University in British Columbia. He is the author of The Dead Sea Psalms Scrolls and the Book of Psalms and co-editor of The Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifty Years.

Eugene Ulrich is the John A. O'Brien professor at the University of Notre Dame. He is chief editor of the Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls and one of the translators of The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

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Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the 1st time, the biblical portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been translated into English. It's a 649 page book entitled 'The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible', translation by Abegg, Flint, and Ulrich who are highly respected scholars in this field. Extensive notes and ingenious, but easy to understand punctuation are used which are a tremendous help in understanding just what the DSS includes. Thank you Martin, Peter and Eugene!!! I just cannot thank you enough! Now, at last, one can, in English, compare, using this new translation, what was written in approx 125 BCE (the date of the Isaiah scroll) with the Masoretic text (the basic text used in the translation of the Old Testament of most modern Bibles) which was written in 1008 CE, and we can personally check to see whether any significant changes have occurred in the Bible over a period of about 1,132 years. Also, be sure to read the enlightening introduction. I listen to the a tape of the Bible, but follow along in this new translation and note the differences. It's quite a confidence builder and a fun way to do Bible reading. Two unfortunate notes: the translators of the DSS Bible opted to use LORD instead of the Divine Name, deferring to the method used by the RSV (why, oh why do they do this when the name is actually there in the text?), and they seem to be succumbing to political correctness by, as they said, using 'inclusive language...with respect to humans', though not for God, and promising to do more in that area in future editions. (How reputable translators can surrender to what is currently in vogue or politically proper and allow it to color their translation is just beyond me.) Still, to be able to compare the DSS to the Masoretic text makes it a most welcome translation, and except for the 2 quibbles mentioned above, it is a job very well, make that, exceptionally well done!
EugeneTX More than 1 year ago
If the Mona Lisa had been painted by a committee, instead of an artist, would anybody want to see it today? Would it be in a museum? How would people view it if they even knew of it? I purchased this book in the hope that I would get the latest translation available on some ancient text believed to be "sacred writing" and discover on pagee xix and xx that the writing really isn't "sacred" after all because we "in the interest of accuracy" change the writing of the principal character from the ancient anagram YHWH and YHWH elohim" to what is approved in the Revised Standard Version" or the "New Revised Standard." We aren't even into the book yet and already changing the "sacred" text to read what we want it to read. I suppose my definition of "sacred" might differ from that of the author's because...to me when one says that such and such is sacred, then it should be expressed as it was written. Period. Enf of debate. Based on the looseness with which we play with the identifiers, I give it just a few more years and you will completely write God's name out of the equation. If the text is truly sacred, keep your grubby paws of it. Secondly, this is not the place to interject your petty little political belief that the Book of Genesis argues for Monogamy. How many wives did you say Joseph had? Esau? Isaac? and that venerable old warhorse and paragon of marital fidelity and wisdom, King Solomon? What!!! Only 700 wives and 300 concubines!!! and I thought it was worse. Besides, "God said do not add to or subtract from." Are you trying to promote the idea that God got it wrong? That he should have mentioned it because you wanted it. When God admonished David for his affair with good old Bethsheba, didn't God admonish him for not settling on all King Dau's wives and Concubines which he, God, had given him. Thirdly, writers, in general need, need, need to start putting the Spirit back into the Bible or the future is not going to be a good one. Somebody needs to wake up to the fact that believing is an intense personal experience subject which you should be able to share. If you want to turn religion into a science, continue on the path you are on and you will get there. You will not be better off for having done so. There is nothing mechanistic about religion yet every new text I read points in that direction. Everyone needs to get back to God's basics and follow the laws, ordinances, statutes, and decrees without adding to or subtracting from. I could have liked the book but I do not. I wanted a translation of sacred works and got a revised and approved copy of what you thought I could read and handle. I'll know better the next time
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very dissappointed that this complete english work did not include the hebrew. I should have liked to compare the author's translation to the original text. I was also hoping to compare the DSC bible text to existing bible texts. I'm not at all satisfied having to take the authors word on the translation without seeing the hebrew source. If the author reads this message, I hope he will consider comming out with an edition which includes the hebrew text. I would be will to pay twice as much for the included hebrew texts.
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NancyVA More than 1 year ago
My friend loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago