First, let me say, “Wow!” As a reader, I truly appreciate an anthology with over a dozen authors and still consistently top quality writing throughout! Which is what you get with this
“Understandingthe Dead Sea Scrolls” edited by Hershel Shanks.
In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd found the first six of the “Dead Sea” Scrolls. In the literary land-rush that followed scholars and shepherd discovered hundreds upon hundreds of scrolls. The vast majority of which were in hundreds and hundreds of fragments. They were stored in eleven caves somewhere around 70 A.D. The essays in “Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls” start with the history of the find, literary genealogy of scrolls, the cloak and dagger business of antiquities, the Israeli war for independence, the cut-throat politics of academia, the controversy, reconstruction and conspiracy theories surrounding the scrolls. Somewhere in there, the authors manage to discuss various finds and their significance. The editor wisely arranged the articles to build on the reader’s growing knowledge on these topics in preparation for the ever-growing complexity and controversy of the Dead Sea Scroll discussions.
Now for some tid-bits, I found along the way.
· Dead Sea Scroll 3Q15 is a treasure map written on a sheet of almost pure copper. The treasure? The treasure of the Temple in Jerusalem, hidden before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans.
· One of the first scrolls found is the Temple Scroll which some scholars believe was a sixth book of the Pentateuch on the same level of authority as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
· Whenever a scriptural passage is repeated, it is because of some new point contained in it.
· The Dead Sea Scrolls might contain the lost books of the Bible referenced in 1 Chronicles 28:19.
· There are copies sometimes several copies of every book in the Old Testament, except Esther. Esther is the only book of the Hebrew Bible that does not mention God.
Oh and by the way, the custodians of all these desert libraries were “monks” of a Jewish sect called the Essene. There is no mention of Jesus, John the Baptist or the Gospels. Nevertheless, the Dead Sea Scrolls and this marvelous book, provide plenty of insights into scripture, Christianity, Judaism and to the world into which Our Lord was born.