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94 Introduction SHOFAR Summer 1999 Vo!. 17, No.4 Review Essay The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years David S. Williams University of Georgia The fIrst of the Dead Sea Scrolls to be discovered were found by an Arab shepherd in a cave in the Judaean desert in late 1946 or early 1947. Archaeologists and Bedouin found additional caves containing scrolls beginning in 1951, and the site which was eventually determined to be associated with the community behind the scrolls-Khirbet Qumran (located at the northwest end of the Dead Sea, about 8 miles south of Jericho}-was fIrst excavated by archaeologists in that same year. Thus, we have now reached a period of time that marks an approximate fIfty-year point from the overall discoveries related to the scrolls. In an earlier publication in this journal ("Teaching the Dead Sea Scrolls," Shofar 14 [1996]: 76-95), I provided an overview of introductory matters connected with the scrolls: (1) the discoveries of the scrolls and the Qumran excavations; (2) the dating of the scrolls; (3) the nature of the scroll library; (4) the theology of the scrolls; (5) the identifIcation of the Qumran community; (6) the signifIcance of the scrolls; (7) the scrolls and early Christianity; and (8) controversies surrounding the publication of the scrolls. I also supplied a brief, annotated bibliography of works on the scrolls. In the present essay, I bring the bibliographic portion of my article up to date by reviewing some important new scholarly books, and also make some additional comments on a few books that were only covered in brief in the article. Specialists will already be aware of the following books. My aim therefore is to assist those nonspecialists who have a personal interest in the scrolls, who plan to address them in a classroom setting, or who are interested in acquiring one or more texts on the scrolls for a library collection. Introductions to the Dead Sea Scrolls James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994. 210 + xiii pp. The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years 95 Lawrence H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History ofJudaism, the Background of Christianity and the Lost Library of Qumran. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1994. 529 + xxvii pp. VanderKam's The Dead Sea Scrolls Today is widely recognized as the new standard introduction to the scrolls, replacing Geza Vermes' The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977). VanderKam is a professor at the University of Notre Dame and is a member of the international team that is . editing the scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today begins with a chapter devoted to the discoveries of the scrolls, the excavations at Qumran, and the methods of dating the scrolls and the archaeological fInds. In the second chapter, VanderKam surveys the contents of the various scroll manuscripts (biblical, targumic, tefIllin and mezuzot texts; apocryphal and pseudepigraphic texts; other nonbiblical works, including biblical commentaries, paraphrases, and legal texts; and liturgical, eschatological, and wisdom writings). The third chapter discusses the identifIcation of the Qumran community, concentrating on the standard Essene hypothesis, but also taking up some problems with the hypothesis, as well as some rival theories (the Sadducees, Jerusalem Origins). On balance, VanderKam espouses the Essene hypothesis, and the fourth chapter, entitled "The Qumran Essenes," sketches the group's history, as well as its thought (predeterminism, dualism, the New Covenant, scriptural interpretation, and messianism) and practice. VanderKam then turns to assess the importance of the scrolls for the study of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. His fIfth chapter deals with the preQumran understanding of the Hebrew Bible and presents the contributions made by the scrolls to the study of the text and canon of the Hebrew Bible. The sixth chapter covers similarities and differences between the scrolls and the New Testament, and discusses such concerns as the possibility that John the Baptist could have had contact with the Qumran group and the notion that some Greek papyri from Cave 7 could be New Testament fragments (which VanderKam deems "quite improbable"). The book concludes with a recap of certain controversies about the editing and publishing of the scrolls, including the newsmaking...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 94-101
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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