The "Dead Sea Scrolls": A Biography

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Overview

"This is a marvelously readable, informative, and reliable general introduction to everything associated with Qumran, and provides valuable insights into the impact of the scrolls on the Bible, ancient Judaism, and budding Christianity. It is highly recommended as one of the best guides for anyone wishing to approach the greatest Hebrew manuscript discovery of modern times."—Geza Vermes, professor emeritus of Jewish studies, University of Oxford

"This up-to-date and concise handbook introduces readers to profound...

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Overview

"This is a marvelously readable, informative, and reliable general introduction to everything associated with Qumran, and provides valuable insights into the impact of the scrolls on the Bible, ancient Judaism, and budding Christianity. It is highly recommended as one of the best guides for anyone wishing to approach the greatest Hebrew manuscript discovery of modern times."—Geza Vermes, professor emeritus of Jewish studies, University of Oxford

"This up-to-date and concise handbook introduces readers to profound discussions of theological, historical, and canonical issues, and to the savory details and gossip surrounding the discovery and publication of the scrolls. Written in Collins's original, witty style, the book is a must for anyone who wants to learn about the scrolls, novice and specialist alike."—Emanuel Tov, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, former editor in chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project

"This book is right up to date, and is written by a scholar who has been at the very center of scrolls scholarship for several decades. What sets it apart is Collins's expert and sensible analysis of the theories scholars have crafted about the Dead Sea Scrolls in the sixty-five years since they were first discovered."—James C. VanderKam, author of The Dead Sea Scrolls Today

"This is an excellent introduction to the scrolls and a great read. Collins has a distinctive perspective and voice, and writes lucidly and engagingly. His well-known scholarly judiciousness is everywhere in evidence—a virtue in short supply in some areas of scrolls study. There is no other volume that does quite what this one does."—Philip Alexander, author of The Mystical Texts: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and Related Manuscripts

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
This compact book, part of the Lives of Great Religious Books series, is not so much about what the Dead Sea Scrolls are but, rather, how the arguments around them have impacted Christianity, Judaism, and the wider world. Collins writes engagingly about the history of the Scrolls and examines the debates and conclusions that various scholars have put forth about who wrote the Scrolls, what the location of their discovery means, and the way the wide-ranging writings have been used to promote various positions. . . . A solid introduction that offers plenty of information.
— Ilene Cooper
GrrlScentist
This is a very readable description of Dead Sea Scrolls' story, from their discovery at an archaeological site in the West Bank to recent events inspired by them.
— Devorah Bennu
Jewish Journal
[Collins] brings clarity and acuity to a subject that has often attracted myth-makers and special pleaders. . . . [He] also allows us to see that the acrimonious debates about the origin, meaning and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls are actually quite consequential to any reader who wonders how the Bible itself and the Bible-based religions actually entered the world.
— Jonathan Kirsch
Booklist - Ilene Cooper
This compact book, part of the Lives of Great Religious Books series, is not so much about what the Dead Sea Scrolls are but, rather, how the arguments around them have impacted Christianity, Judaism, and the wider world. Collins writes engagingly about the history of the Scrolls and examines the debates and conclusions that various scholars have put forth about who wrote the Scrolls, what the location of their discovery means, and the way the wide-ranging writings have been used to promote various positions. . . . A solid introduction that offers plenty of information.
GrrlScentist - Devorah Bennu
This is a very readable description of Dead Sea Scrolls' story, from their discovery at an archaeological site in the West Bank to recent events inspired by them.
Jewish Journal - Jonathan Kirsch
[Collins] brings clarity and acuity to a subject that has often attracted myth-makers and special pleaders. . . . [He] also allows us to see that the acrimonious debates about the origin, meaning and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls are actually quite consequential to any reader who wonders how the Bible itself and the Bible-based religions actually entered the world.
Canadian Jewish News - Sheldon Kirshner
Offers insights into the passionate debates that have swirled around [the Dead Sea Scrolls] since their startling discovery. One of the topics he explores is the extent to which they broadly reflect the Judaism of that era.
The Independent - Peter Stanford
In his short, sharp, snappy 'biography', [Collins] rehearses all the various theories on the scrolls, separates the wheat from the chaff, and brings light to the darkness. This is not simply a digest. Collins takes our hand and guides us to oh-so-reasonable conclusions.
Tribune - Nigel Nelson
The scrolls have had the experts fighting over them like cats in a sack, but for the rest of us, they are of curiosity value only. . . . These stories of backbiting and backstabbing make Collin's book a feast for the eyes.
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East - Rivkah Fishman-Duker
The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography is an important contribution because Collins analyzes and summarizes the essence, content and problematic aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their scholars. . . . In today's politicized world of academia, unfortunately, the Jewish context and content of the Scrolls and the site and the Jewish world of Jesus and his disciples must be restated and demonstrated constantly. Accordingly, John Collins' book contributes to debunking fraudulent political claims against the presence of Jews and the very essence of Jewish history and Jewish religion in the Land of Israel.
From the Publisher
"In sum, this is an excellent introduction to a complex subject, lucid and remarkably irenic."—Roger S. Bagnall, Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

Library Journal
After reading this work, the conceit of writing a biography of the Dead Sea Scrolls will seem most apt. Collins (Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism & Interpretation, Yale; Introduction to the Hebrew Bible), a respected Dead Sea Scroll scholar, sketches a concise historical narrative of what was found in the Qumran caves south of Jericho in 1947, then traces the nearly 50-year journey these scrolls, pages and, in some cases, indecipherable fragments took to publication. He recounts the major players and, more important, the theological, political, and recurring personal conflicts that are the narrative fodder for all good biographies. The author is somewhat professionally invested in these fights but adopts as neutral a voice as possible. Collins is especially good at highlighting where scholars often—but not always—unwittingly massaged evidence to fit prevailing hypotheses and assumptions. This is a bit of fascinating historical biography that shows the high stakes involved in obscure academic and theological finds. VERDICT Historians and seminarians looking for a short, quick study with extensive bibliographies on the subject will be well served by this book. Recommended. [The reviewer is no relation to the author.—Ed.]—Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691143675
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2012
  • Series: Lives of Great Religious Books
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 333,377
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 3.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John J. Collins is the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale University. His many books include "Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls", "Introduction to the Hebrew Bible", and "The Scepter and the Star: Messianism in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls".

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Chapter 1 The Discovery of the Scrolls 1
Chapter 2 The Essenes 33
Chapter 3 The Site of Qumran 67
Chapter 4 The Scrolls and Christianity 96
Chapter 5 The Scrolls and Judaism 147
Chapter 6 The Scrolls and the Bible 185
Chapter 7 The Battle for the Scrolls 213
Appendix Personalities in the Discovery and Subsequent Controversies 243
Notes 247
Glossary 259
Bibliography 263
Indexes 265

  • Ancient Texts 265
  • Names 267
  • Places 270
  • Subjects 27
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    An extraordinary journey into the world of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    An extraordinary journey into the world of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The author takes us through their discovery and release in controlled batches from mid 20th Century through continuing litigation and squabbles among scholars in the 21st Century. This is an in-depth presentation and it helps to have some familiarity with the Bible and the events in Judea during the time just before and concurrent with Jesus' life. All the theories regarding the scrolls and their origin and purposes are examined in detail. Also how the scrolls relate to early Christianity and Judaism before the rabbinic time is deeply analyzed and current and former personalities involved in the scroll analyses and publications are fairly, and with balance and intellectual rigor, presented for the reader's perusal. I found this volume a fabulous and enjoyable read concerning a subject of mystery and fascination to millions of people through the recent past. Don't miss it if you find the subject alluring.”

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    Badly formatted

    Warning-this ebook is not properly formatted. The text is very small and cannot be adjusted or enlarged. None of the changes I tried to reformat worked, so I am stuck with reading very small text. This is especially true in the Nook app for iPad but even in the Nook itself, it is badly formatted.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Shade

    Shade looked around for Sage then shook out her fur and trotted into camp.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Dawn

    Roared in agony and left never to come back.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Fleetfoot

    Oh good i thought you were killed ( guese that wasnt much better :p) but i havent seen Shadow and River around lately... im worried <:(

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Sage

    Sge stood and stretched. He licked his paw and went to a magic fire in tje room. He layed near it. Trying to get some warmth into his bones.

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