In 1946, the world of biblical studies was rocked by the discovery of several scrolls in caves around the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Scrolls contained translations of portions of the books of the Hebrew scriptures, a manual of discipline for the community responsible for producing the scrolls and a scroll that narrated an apocalyptic battle between the sons of light, led by a figure called the Teacher of Righteousness, and the sons of darkness. These documents gave biblical scholars a tantalizing glimpse of the then relatively unknown period of first-century Judaism and of the theology of at least one of its sects. Very quickly, though, the ownership of the scrolls became a point of great political contention between the Israeli government and American scholars like Frank Moore Cross at Harvard, and, consequently, translations of the scrolls appeared very slowly, if at all. Finally, in 1991, author Martin Abegg, then a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, published a volume of previously unreleased scrolls. Following this publication, the Huntington Library announced that it had photographs of all the unreleased scrolls and that it would allow unrestricted access to the photos. Wise, Abegg and Cook's collection is now the most complete collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls available. The authors' English translations capture the nuances of the Hebrew, and sometimes the Greek, of the scrolls, many of which are merely fragments. Also contained here is a thorough introduction to the history of the discovery of the scrolls and a theory about the community that produced the scrolls: the authors convincingly argue that the Essenes, to whom the scrolls are traditionally attributed, were likely not the community responsible for writing the scrolls. For all interested in learning from primary texts about the development of first-century Judaism, this is an essential volume (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996 Release date: 11/01/1996 Genre: Religion
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