THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS AND THE JEWISH ORIGINS OF CHRISTIANITY

Carsten Peter Thiede, Author . Palgrave , $ 27.95 (256p) ISBN (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-29361-1

This highly technical treatise will appeal primarily to specialists on the Dead Sea Scrolls and early Christianity, despite the author's efforts to reach out to a wider readership. When he is not spouting Greek (which he does extensively) or recording the number of letter fragments on a stipulated number of lines on scraps of parchment, Thiede (Eyewitness to Jesus) uses sprightly prose to advance his argument. Essentially, he claims that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain writings that were later included in the New Testament, thus demonstrating that the early Christians, including Jesus, were Jews. However, Thiede also notes that the community of Essenes at Qumran who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls were not the first Christians; they "did not all of a sudden mutate to Christians." Whether or not some Essenes became Jewish Christians is an open question. To answer this and other questions, Thiede has developed "confocal scanning optical microscopy" to examine the scrolls, as well as "high resolution X-ray radiography and Computer-Aided Tomography." While most readers will find these methods to be incomprehensible, they will enjoy Thiede's frank castigation of other Dead Sea Scrolls scholars, such as one he accuses of harming "public understanding of the scrolls." Patient readers will be fascinated by Thiede's carefully documented assertion that, in its earliest days, Christianity was basically a Jewish movement. As a papyrologist and expert on the history and texts of the first century, Thiede is eminently qualified to present this erudite analysis. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
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Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-4039-6143-3
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