Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity

Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity

by James VanderKam, Peter Flint
     
 

The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in caves near the Dead Sea fifteen miles east of Jerusalem from 1947 to 1956, include the oldest existing biblical manuscripts and the remarkable texts of the purist Jewish community at Qumran. The discovery of the scrolls has added dramatically to our understanding of the varieties of Judaism at the time of Jesus and the rise of

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Overview

The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in caves near the Dead Sea fifteen miles east of Jerusalem from 1947 to 1956, include the oldest existing biblical manuscripts and the remarkable texts of the purist Jewish community at Qumran. The discovery of the scrolls has added dramatically to our understanding of the varieties of Judaism at the time of Jesus and the rise of Christianity, but has also prompted heated debate about the nature of these religions. As the monumental task of transcribing and translating the Dead Sea Scrolls is finally completed, people around the world are taking stock of the significance of these ancient documents. In this book, two of the world's leading experts on the scrolls reveal the complete and fascinating story in all its detail: the amazing discovery, the intense controversies, and the significant revelations.

Drawing together all the evidence, this timely book explores:

  • The discovery and dating of the scrolls
  • Their relationship to the Hebrew Bible, Apocrypha, and New Testament
  • Their messianic and apocalyptic messages
  • The identity, nature, and theology of the Qumran community
  • The nonbiblical scrolls
  • Controversies surrounding the scrolls

This comprehensive, up-to-date guide is the definitive introduction to all aspects of the scrolls, including their teachings, the community that created them, the world of Judaism, the origins of Christianity, our understanding of Jesus and the New Testament. Featuring photos of the original texts, the sites, and the scholars who deciphered them, and including illustrative passages from the scrolls, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls presents the most complete and accurate scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls available today.

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Editorial Reviews

Herschel Shanks
“A comprehensive, detailed but readable account of what the scrolls really say.”
David Noel Freedman
“This work provides a cap and climax to more than fifty years of research and publication of the Scrolls.”
John J. Collins
“Eminently readable and reliable...a mine of information and a very useful reference work.”
Choice
“Comprehensive and up-to-date...an important addition to any collection on the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
Publishers Weekly
This sweeping and up-to-the-minute introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls includes many recent developments in Scrolls research, bringing readers current information on new DNA dating techniques, discoveries in linguistics, and archaeological findings. VanderKam (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today) and Flint (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible) are clearly experts in their field, familiar with all the major (and minor) issues at stake. At times, they become submerged in questions that only other specialists will care about, or render unnecessarily detailed information on particular points (for example, providing a paragraph on each of the major photographers who have worked with the Scrolls, or debating the intricacies of Paleo-Hebrew). Despite these forays into arcana, the authors usually manage to keep their prose free of scholarly jargon. Moreover, the accessible design is first-rate, with helpful sidebars and information boxes to aid the reader. VanderKam and Flint pay special attention to the Scrolls' relationship with biblical and apocryphal literature, offering nuanced discussions of the formation of the biblical canon and the development of various lines of scribal transmission. One section deals with the non-biblical Scrolls and attempts to reveal more about the Qumran community, with VanderKam and Flint coming down heavily in favor of Essene authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Overall, this is a superb introduction to all of the major points, though novice readers may wish to skim the more concentrated academic debates. (Dec.) Forecast: This well-illustrated guide can serve as either a textbook for classroom use or an introduction for general readers, and as such will find a core audience of Scrolls enthusiasts. A foreword by Emanuel Tov, the Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project, should help sales in the academic community. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
VanderKam (Univ. of Notre Dame; The Dead Sea Scrolls Today) and Flint (codirector, Dead Sea Scrolls Inst., Trinity Western Univ., B.C.) have produced a richly informative and insightful book. The content is not all that unusual among recent books on the Scrolls, but the sober, thorough, and balanced presentation sets it apart. The book begins with an examination of the discovery and dating of the Scrolls, which includes the results of new technology. The authors discuss the text and canon of the Hebrew Bible in addition to the Apocrypha and New Testament in relation to the Scrolls. This is followed by a review of the nonbiblical Scrolls and their message. They also evaluate some earlier books on the Scrolls that make outlandish, unfounded claims concerning what they purportedly reveal about Jesus and early Christianity, then present some well-documented ways the Scrolls do offer important background material for understanding Jesus' teachings. The final chapter closes with a review of the controversies surrounding the Scrolls. Each chapter contains helpful sidebars and ends with a useful "Select Bibliography" for further research. Highly recommended as a clear, scholarly, and balanced presentation that helps the reader grasp both the significance of the Scrolls and their value as background material for our understanding of the Bible.-David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060684648
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/07/2002
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
7.37(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.45(d)

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