Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran

A new handbook presents both the history and the latest theories regarding the Qumran scrolls

Read the full original review by Charlotte Hempel as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , Sept/Oct 2011

Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran

Discovered in the caves above Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls have provided scholars with important information about the Jewish communities that resided in the environs of Qumran. credit: Israel Museum

The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Edited by Timothy Lim and John Collins

Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010, 785 pp.
$150 (hardcover)

 
What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? Often referred to as the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century, the ancient texts discovered in the caves above Qumran have brought a tremendous amount of information to bear on our understanding of the ancient Biblical world and its customs—and have provoked as many questions. The recent publication The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls, edited by Timothy Lim and John Collins, proves to be a valuable tool for the newcomer as well as seasoned scholars seeking the history and latest research on the ancient texts of Qumran.

Reviewer Charlotte Hempel suggests that the book’s most impressive accomplishment is that it challenges long-held presuppositions regarding the “boxes” into which we have fit our understanding of these ancient documents and their relationship to Qumran as well as ancient Judaism. This book, according to Hempel, helps us reframe the question “What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?” and informs our modern understanding of ancient Judaism as well as the community that wrote the texts, a community that–at least at one point–must have been present in the environs of Qumran.

Hempel points out that this new handbook presents what we already know about the scrolls as well as the latest theories and interpretations of these ancient documents. This makes it an ideal text for those approaching the subject of the scrolls and Qumran for the first time and searching to understand what are the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Hempel also draws attention to the fact that the handbook contains essays that deal specifically with the theories regarding the community who wrote the ancient documents. Whether or not this is the same community that lived in Qumran—and if the Qumran community was Essene—still remains a point of debate. With so much of this ancient library discovered in the caves above Qumran yet to be thoroughly studied, it is only a matter of time before this and other scholarly disputes regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relationship to Qumran are resolved.

This latest publication on the ancient Qumran library provides the reader with all of the most up-to-date information and research. As an introduction to some of the most important ancient texts in the world, The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls should prove to be an invaluable tool to answer the question “What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?”
 

Read the full original review by Charlotte Hempel as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , Sept/Oct 2011

 


 

The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Edited by Timothy Lim and John Collins

Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010, 785 pp.
$150 (hardcover)
Reviewed by Charlotte Hempel





Read the full original review by Charlotte Hempel as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , Sept/Oct 2011

Posted in Daily, Dead Sea Scrolls.

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3 Responses

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  1. Olga says

    This Google project is a great thing, but Qumran near the Dead sea, where the scrolls were found, is a very beautiful place and the Dead sea itself is one of the finalists in the new7wonders of nature campaign (you can vote here: Vote Dead sea ). I think people better get out of the study room and visit the place.

  2. John says

    Dear Olga

    Are you aware of a Origins of Zadokites within the Dead Sea Sect i believe there is a connection between High Priests and “Son of Zadok” in position of the Head.

    thanks

    John Stuart

Continuing the Discussion

  1. scrollery.com linked to this post on December 5, 2011

    [...] T. Lim and J. Collins (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Many good articles, especially Martin Goodman (“the notion that the Dead Sea sectarians cut themselves off from the Temple would seem to us bizarre if we only had the pagan evidence and archaeology as the background to our understanding of the scrolls” [p. 88]), Sacha Stern (“The absence of calendar polemics in Qumran sources raises our suspicion that the calendar was not a major issue that would have defined the Qumran community as essentially different, sectarian, or separatist” [p. 247]), Michael Wise (“the Teacher and his movement appear to belong to the first century BCE” [p. 119]), Joan Taylor (“Josephus does not imply that the Essenes . . . avoided the Temple, Jerusalem, or the public life of Judaism” [p. 182]), and more. Charlotte Hempel reviews the volume here. [...]


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