cover image Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search for the Secret of Qumran

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search for the Secret of Qumran

Norman Golb. Scribner Book Company, $25 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-02-544395-2

The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947 in caves in the village of Qumran, now on Jordan's West Bank, have been linked to the Essenes, an ancient Jewish pacifist, communal sect, and some scholars have suggested that Jesus may have been an Essene. Golb, professor of Jewish history and civilization at the University of Chicago, disputes the conventional wisdom in an engrossing, closely argued study. In his rival theory, Palestinian Jews, fearful of the impending Roman siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, took or copied manuscripts from Jerusalem's libraries, smuggled them out of the city and hid them at Qumran, Massada and other sites. Moreover, the presumed Essene monastery of Qumran was actually a Jewish rebel fortress, argues Golb, who marshalls archeological, historical and textual evidence, including his own fieldwork at Qumran and his work on the scrolls. He believes the scrolls and related fragmentary manuscripts embody a wide spectrum of doctrines, genres and themes, from a Hebrew hymn by a Jewish nationalist poet to an apocalyptic brotherhood initiation to an inventory of documents stashed away in the Judaean wilderness. Photos. BOMC, QPB, History Book Club, Newbridge Natural Science Book Club and Reader's Subscription alternates; author tour. (Jan.)