Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls

Overview

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the most important and most exciting manuscript find of the twentieth century. Yet their significance remains inaccessible to most, veiled by mystery and scholarly occlusion. This volume, comprised of articles by the world's leading Dead Sea Scroll authorities, is the essential source book for understanding the scrolls and the controversies that rage around them. The articles, drawn from the Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review, are edited by Hershel Shanks. Shanks is a leader of ...
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Overview

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the most important and most exciting manuscript find of the twentieth century. Yet their significance remains inaccessible to most, veiled by mystery and scholarly occlusion. This volume, comprised of articles by the world's leading Dead Sea Scroll authorities, is the essential source book for understanding the scrolls and the controversies that rage around them. The articles, drawn from the Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review, are edited by Hershel Shanks. Shanks is a leader of the international movement that recently succeeded in releasing the scrolls from the handful of scholars who had hoarded the secret texts for more than thirty-five years. Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls traces the scrolls' often Byzantine path from their initial chance discovery in 1947 by Bedouin shepherds to their status as what Bible scholar Harry Thomas Frank calls "the most sensational archaeological discovery of the century." Cloak-and-dagger antiquities trading, conspiracy theories, and front-page battles over access to the scrolls' secrets all contribute to the intrigue. This collection addresses the primary questions raised by the scrolls: What do the scrolls tell us about early Christianity and developing rabbinic Judaism? Was Jesus an Essene? Did John the Baptist live with the Qumran community that wrote the scrolls? Is the Temple Scroll the lost sixth book of the Torah? Is the Copper Scroll a map to hidden temple treasure? What do the nearly two hundred biblical scrolls tell us about the development of the Hebrew Bible? Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls also contains the interview with chief scroll editor John Strugnell that led to his dismissal amid charges of incompetence and anti-Semitism, as well as Shanks's own article that discredits the theory of a Vatican-controlled scroll coverup. A consensus emerges from these Dead Sea Scroll debates: The scrolls are an incomparable archaeological and historical treasure. They illuminate critic

This volume represents the first real look at the content of the Dead Sea Scrolls--for more than 35 years jealously guarded by a critically biased group of scholars--and offers an illuminating assessment of what the scrolls reveal about a lost era in Judaism and early Christianity. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Culled from the pages of Biblical Archaeology Review , edited by Shanks, these essays by scholars in the field shed further light on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in the Qumran caves east of Jerusalem in 1947. Eschewing the mainstream opinion that identifies the inhabitants of Qumran as members of a Jewish religious sect called the Essenes, Lawrence Schiffman radically links the sectarians with the priestly and scripturally literalistic Sadducees. The late Yigael Yadin describes his laborious efforts to acquire the crucial Temple Scroll, the difficult task of unrolling it and his belief that Jesus was anti-Essene even though the Essenes' rejection of the Jerusalem Temple and its cult influenced the early Christians. Hartmut Stegemann claims that the Temple Scroll is a lost sixth book of the Torah composed of material rejected when the Pentateuch was canonized under the influence of Ezra in the fifth century B.C. In a 1990 interview with an Israeli journalist, John Strugnell expresses anti-Semitic views; he was subsequently removed from his position as chief Scrolls editor. Illustrations not seen by PW. (July)
Library Journal
The discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls is one of the most important and controversial events in 20th-century biblical and related studies. As editor and publisher of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), Shanks has observed the progress of Scroll studies and the heat they have generated. Here, he compiles 22 articles from the pages of BAR and Bible Review dealing with the discovery of the Scrolls, the ancient community that stored them away, and their impact upon the study of the Bible, Rabbinic Judaism, and early Christianity. Three chapters on the controversy surrounding the publication (and in many cases nonpublication) of the materials round out the volume. In the final chapter, Shanks reacts to the recent sensational book The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception ( LJ 1/92), labeling as ``hogwash'' their charge of Vatican suppression of Qumran material and interpretations that might undermine Church doctrine. The articles included are written by scholars but are easily accessible to lay readers. Coverage is balanced, including opposing viewpoints. There is one annoying omission: nowhere in the volume are the original publication dates of the articles given. This anthology is appropriate for public and academic libraries.-- Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
Kirkus Review
Outstanding anthology, drawn in part from The Biblical Archaeological Review and The Bible Review, that serves as a complete primer to what biblical scholar Harry Thomas Frank has called ``the most sensational archaeological discovery of the century.'' Shanks, editor of The Biblical Archaeological Review, has a flair for drama, evident both in the many essays here about the intrigue that swirls around the scrolls--spies, conspiracy theories, and shadowy antique-dealers all play their part.
W.G. Hubert
Years ago, this was the first book I read on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Since then, it has become one of my most important DSS references. This is a great introduction. The story of the discovery, the temple scroll, the copper scroll and much more are explained simply.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517167885
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/27/1996

Meet the Author

Hershel Shanks is founder and editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, the most popular magazine in this niche field of study. Shanks in 1991 was the first to publish excerpts of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments, which had been secreted by a small group of scholars who controlled them. He has authored and edited numerous books including The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and The Copper Scroll and the Search for the Temple Treasure.
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Table of Contents

Of Caves and Scholars: An Overview
I The Find
1 Discovering the Scrolls 3
2 The Historical Context of the Scrolls 20
II Where They Came From
3 The Sadducean Origins of the Dead Sea Scroll Sect 35
4 The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Essenes Or Sadducees? 50
5 "First Dead Sea Scroll" Found in Egypt Fifty Years Before Qumran Discoveries 63
6 Essene Origins--Palestine Or Babylonia? 79
III The Temple Scroll
7 The Temple Scroll--The Longest Dead Sea Scroll 87
8 The Gigantic Dimensions of the Visionary Temple in the Temple Scroll 113
9 Intrigue and the Scroll 116
10 Is the Temple Scroll a Sixth Book of the Torah--Lost for 2,500 Years? 126
IV The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible
11 The Text Behind the Text of the Hebrew Bible 139
12 Light on the Bible from the Dead Sea Caves 156
13 When the Sons of God Cavorted With the Daughters of Men 167
V The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity
14 The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity 181
15 An Unpublished Dead Sea Scroll Text Parallels Luke's Infancy Narrative 203
16 Was John the Baptist an Essene? 205
VI The Dead Sea Scrolls and Rabbinic Judaism
17 New Light on the Pharisees 217
VII The Copper Scroll
18 The Mystery of the Copper Scroll 227
VIII Reconstructing the Scrolls
19 How to Connect Dead Sea Scroll Fragments 245
IX Controversy and the Scrolls
20 Interview With Chief Scroll Editor John Strugnell 259
21 Silence, Anti-Semitism, and the Scrolls 264
22 Is the Vatican Suppressing the Dead Sea Scrolls? 275
Notes 291
About the Authors 313
Index 317
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