The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography

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Princeton University Press, 2013 - Religion - 272 pages
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Since they were first discovered in the caves at Qumran in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls have aroused more fascination--and more controversy--than perhaps any other archaeological find. They appear to have been hidden in the Judean desert by the Essenes, a Jewish sect that existed around the time of Jesus, and they continue to inspire veneration and conspiracy theories to this day. John Collins tells the story of the bitter conflicts that have swirled around the scrolls since their startling discovery, and sheds light on their true significance for Jewish and Christian history.


Collins vividly recounts how a Bedouin shepherd went searching for a lost goat and found the scrolls instead. He offers insight into debates over whether the Essenes were an authentic Jewish sect and explains why such questions are critical to our understanding of ancient Judaism and to Jewish identity. Collins explores whether the scrolls were indeed the property of an isolated, quasi-monastic community living at Qumran, or whether they more broadly reflect the Judaism of their time. And he unravels the impassioned disputes surrounding the scrolls and Christianity. Do they anticipate the early church? Do they undermine the credibility of the Christian faith? Collins also looks at attempts to "reclaim" the scrolls for Judaism after the full corpus became available in the 1990s, and at how the decades-long delay in publishing the scrolls gave rise to sensational claims and conspiracy theories.


 

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User Review  - dono421846 - LibraryThing

Both erudite and fair, this accessible text outlines some of the landmarks in the history and impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls. While I wouldn't recommend that it be the only book one read on the topic, it more than suffices as a jumping off point for more detailed investigations. Read full review

Contents

The Discovery ofthe Scrolls
1
The Essenes
33
The Site ofQumran
67
The Scrolls and Christianity
96
The Scrolls andJudaism
147
The Scrolls and the Bible
185
The Battle for the Scrolls
213
Appendix Personalities in the Discovery and Subsequent Controversies
243
Notes
247
Glossary
259
Bibliography
263
Indexes
265
names
267
Places
270
Subjects
272
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

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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