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Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls: 2 Volume set [Hardcover]

Lawrence H. Schiffman , James VanderKam
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 15 2000 0195084500 978-0195084504
This landmark reference work is the first of its kind. Featuring 450 articles by an international community of scholars it is the definitive account of what we know about the Dead Sea Scrolls--their history, relevance, meaning, and the controversies that surround them. Discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd, the collection of 800 manuscripts is older than any other collection of manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures by almost one thousand years. What do the scrolls tell us about the people who wrote them? What do they tell us about early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism? How do they confirm or contradict what we thought we knew about the Bible? With contributions from 100 distinguished scholars representing diverse traditions and fields of learning, this volume offers the most comprehensive critical synthesis of current knowledge about the Dead Sea Scrolls--and their historical, archaeological, linguistic, and religious contexts. Written in non-technical language this reference work provides authoritative answers and information for all readers.

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From Library Journal

The watershed in modern scrolls history a decade ago (when the entire text, whose release had been held up by scholars for years, was finally made available) made it possible for research to proceed at a pace necessary to produce this work. This volume is a current, comprehensive guide to the fruit of 50 years of scrolls scholarship. Alphabetically arranged articles treat archaeological sites, material, and writings as well as ancient beliefs and practices, contemporary history and individuals, related ancient texts, and scrolls research. The articles are extensively cross referenced, and a "synoptic" outline of the contents separates articles by theme. The continuing divergence of scholarly opinion on the scrolls is reflected in the list of contributors and often is evident in the articles themselves. While most of these articles are accessible to lay readers, some may prove to be a challenge. For example, "Mird, Khirbet" contains architectural terms--without explanation--that are likely unfamiliar to nonspecialists. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the EDSS is the lack of illustrations, which may further frustrate lay readers. Minor criticisms aside, though, this volume promises to be a necessary part of academic collections and should be considered for larger public libraries as well.
-Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In 1947, Bedouins in the Judean Desert happen upon a cave in which clay jars are discovered. Perhaps seeking treasure or simply out of natural curiosity, they break the seals on several of the jars. In one, bundles containing scrolls are found. The story of the discovery, sale, and recognition of the importance of these and other scrolls includes an antiquities dealer known as Mister X and a "for sale" advertisement in the Wall Street Journal . Though they sound like the stuff of a bad Hollywood film, such details in fact prove that truth is often stranger than fiction, for the discovery of these scrolls was one of the most important of the twentieth century.

As stated in the preface of this encyclopedia, "the fifty years since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls have seen an immense development in our understanding of biblical studies, the history of Judaism, and the rise of Christianity. . . . [They] provide textual evidence for a variety of topics, including the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible, background for the New Testament and early Christianity, and evidence for the development of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism." Scholarly attention to the scrolls and fragments found in the caves of Qumran remains in its infancy, and study undertaken^B has been rather secret. Only recently were copies released to the entire community of scholars. The encyclopedia "aims to encompass all scholarship on the scrolls to date." Not limiting its scope to the discoveries in the caves of Qumran, it includes texts found throughout the Judean Desert.

Entries are alphabetically arranged and signed by one of the many contributing international scholars. In addition to individual texts, coverage extends to the archaeological sites themselves; important historical figures (Moses ) and groups (Essenes, Pharisees ) as they are represented in the scrolls; scholars important to Dead Sea Scroll research (such as John Strugnell, editor in chief of the scrolls from 1984 to 1990); and methods employed both to date and to preserve these ancient documents. Perhaps the most interesting entries are those that give the reader a glimpse of life in the communities from which many of these documents came. What was the role of women in these communities? How were marriage and divorce understood? What place did celibacy have in the lives of men and women? What ritual practices were observed? Entries conclude with supplemental bibliographies, often annotated, with emphasis on English-language sources. The encyclopedia concludes with a general index as well as appendixes, listing individual texts from the various sites in the Judean Desert, their text numbers, official names as used in scholarly literature, and names used in this work.

The content of this new resource is wholly unique. These texts require the reexamination of the history of Judaism and Christianity as well as the sources upon which those histories have been based, something that other encyclopedias of Judaism, Christianity, the Bible, and Near Eastern archaeology do not provide. The editors are keenly aware that this line of scholarly inquiry is only just beginning. Although the encyclopedia as a whole takes no particular approach to the subject matter, individual scholars have been given freedom to present their own scholarly views, and the result is perhaps more of a status than a final report. However, the usefulness of a source that brings together current academic thinking on so important a topic is beyond question. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries serving interest in Judaism, Christianity, biblical studies, and archaeology. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended July 9 2000
Format:Hardcover
As one might expect, given that many fine scholars contributed, this reference work can be highly recommended. It provides a good interim survey of on-going research from which anyone can learn much. As also ineluctable, no one publication on the lively scrolls research can be fully complete or error-free. There are so many excellent articles to be thankful for. Without minimizing how valuable this collection is, a few critical notes may be worthwhile. I haven't finished reading, so I may err too. It isn't illustrated, perhaps to keep this--relatively--less expensive. And many photos of scrolls and caves, etc., are indeed available elsewhere. Yet some articles are limited by this: scroll reconstruction and photography and computer imaging, for instance. While nearly all the important topics are covered adequately, there are absences. Though Epicurean and Cynicism articles are provided, Stoicism has no article, though the latter is much more relevant to Qumran Essenes or descriptions of them. Yes, Qumran Essenes, though several articles retain the now-pointless politically correct equivocation, as if a badge of methodological rigour. Qumran, we reliably read demonstrated here, was neither a fort to which all scrolls were brought from Jerusalem, nor a salt-seller motel, nor a luxury villa. The late S. Steckoll, though not a noted scholar, did dig at Qumran, so could have merited an article. The "yahad" ostracon (or not "yahad," depending on the scholar consulted) deserved an article, giving differing views (in mine, it relates to year two of initiation). Menahem the Essene (mistakenly indexed) could carry an article. The Qazone burials in the Lisan go unnoted, though known for years. Some articles are less than fully alive to latest research. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended July 9 2000
Format:Hardcover
As one might expect, given that many fine scholars contributed, this reference work can be highly recommended. It provides a good interim survey of on-going research from which anyone can learn much. As also ineluctable, no one publication on the lively scrolls research can be fully complete or error-free. There are so many excellent articles to be thankful for. Without minimizing how valuable this collection is, a few critical notes may be worthwhile. I haven't finished reading, so I may err too. It isn't illustrated, perhaps to keep this--relatively--less expensive. And many photos of scrolls and caves, etc., are indeed available elsewhere. Yet some articles are limited by this: scroll reconstruction and photography and computer imaging, for instance. While nearly all the important topics are covered adequately, there are absences. Though Epicurean and Cynicism articles are provided, Stoicism has no article, though the latter is much more relevant to Qumran Essenes or descriptions of them. Yes, Qumran Essenes, though several articles retain the now-pointless politically correct equivocation, as if a badge of methodological rigour. Qumran, we reliably read demonstrated here, was neither a fort to which all scrolls were brought from Jerusalem, nor a salt-seller motel, nor a luxury villa. The late S. Steckoll, though not a noted scholar, did dig at Qumran, so could have merited an article. The "yahad" ostracon (or not "yahad," depending on the scholar consulted) deserved an article, giving differing views (in mine, it relates to year two of initiation). Menahem the Essene (mistakenly indexed) could carry an article. The Qazone burials in the Lisan go unnoted, though known for years. Some articles are less than fully alive to latest research. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended July 9 2000
By Stephen Goranson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As one might expect, given that many fine scholars contributed, this reference work can be highly recommended. It provides a good interim survey of on-going research from which anyone can learn much. As also ineluctable, no one publication on the lively scrolls research can be fully complete or error-free. There are so many excellent articles to be thankful for. Without minimizing how valuable this collection is, a few critical notes may be worthwhile. I haven't finished reading, so I may err too. It isn't illustrated, perhaps to keep this--relatively--less expensive. And many photos of scrolls and caves, etc., are indeed available elsewhere. Yet some articles are limited by this: scroll reconstruction and photography and computer imaging, for instance. While nearly all the important topics are covered adequately, there are absences. Though Epicurean and Cynicism articles are provided, Stoicism has no article, though the latter is much more relevant to Qumran Essenes or descriptions of them. Yes, Qumran Essenes, though several articles retain the now-pointless politically correct equivocation, as if a badge of methodological rigour. Qumran, we reliably read demonstrated here, was neither a fort to which all scrolls were brought from Jerusalem, nor a salt-seller motel, nor a luxury villa. The late S. Steckoll, though not a noted scholar, did dig at Qumran, so could have merited an article. The "yahad" ostracon (or not "yahad," depending on the scholar consulted) deserved an article, giving differing views (in mine, it relates to year two of initiation). Menahem the Essene (mistakenly indexed) could carry an article. The Qazone burials in the Lisan go unnoted, though known for years. Some articles are less than fully alive to latest research. "Essenes" mostly repeats a rather good book, but a 1988 one. It gives an explicit citation of evidence that the name came, via Greek spellings, from a Hebrew Qumran self-designation 'osey hatorah (observers of torah)--the source in effect predicted by scholars for centuries before the discovery--then unaccountably dismisses such as lack of explicit evidence (see DSS After 50 Years vol.2). We can now see the once-popular Aramaic proposals have no Qumran support. The Pliny article could have noted that his source's description of Essenes at Qumran was written in the rule of Herod the Great, when Ein Gedi (and *not* Jerusalem, as the H. Rackham [d. 1944], not Rackman, trans. has misled many to think) was still destroyed, an ashheap/graveyard, so not a toparchy, from fighting c. 40 BC. Yet another reason Y. Hirschfeld's Ein Gedi site, too late and too small, does not fit Pliny's Essenes. The Damascus article presents sect orgins in Babylon as if obvious, rather than a distinctly minority view. Numismatics well presents Herodian occupation at Qumran, but the later phase proposal raises questions, e.g., just who would accept Judaea Capta coins? Bibliography is endless. But surely the growing list of essays that 4Q448 is *against* Jonathan deserves to be noted. Not least because the two Jonathans --not Simon as one article has it--are the two which have been proposed most often over the last 50 years as "wicked priest," and the good chronological archaeology revisions here by Magness and others now tend to favor the later one, Jannaeus. Why no Dimant article in Angels bibliography? Why not S. Wagner in Pythagoraeans? But full consensus is not to be expected--and has never existed--in all aspects of scroll study. This Encyclopedia overall is an excellent and useful contribution to learning on this important history. I certainly recommend it, especially to libraries which aid history research.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended July 9 2000
By Stephen Goranson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As one might expect, given that many fine scholars contributed, this reference work can be highly recommended. It provides a good interim survey of on-going research from which anyone can learn much. As also ineluctable, no one publication on the lively scrolls research can be fully complete or error-free. There are so many excellent articles to be thankful for. Without minimizing how valuable this collection is, a few critical notes may be worthwhile. I haven't finished reading, so I may err too. It isn't illustrated, perhaps to keep this--relatively--less expensive. And many photos of scrolls and caves, etc., are indeed available elsewhere. Yet some articles are limited by this: scroll reconstruction and photography and computer imaging, for instance. While nearly all the important topics are covered adequately, there are absences. Though Epicurean and Cynicism articles are provided, Stoicism has no article, though the latter is much more relevant to Qumran Essenes or descriptions of them. Yes, Qumran Essenes, though several articles retain the now-pointless politically correct equivocation, as if a badge of methodological rigour. Qumran, we reliably read demonstrated here, was neither a fort to which all scrolls were brought from Jerusalem, nor a salt-seller motel, nor a luxury villa. The late S. Steckoll, though not a noted scholar, did dig at Qumran, so could have merited an article. The "yahad" ostracon (or not "yahad," depending on the scholar consulted) deserved an article, giving differing views (in mine, it relates to year two of initiation). Menahem the Essene (mistakenly indexed) could carry an article. The Qazone burials in the Lisan go unnoted, though known for years. Some articles are less than fully alive to latest research. "Essenes" mostly repeats a rather good book, but a 1988 one. It gives an explicit citation of evidence that the name came, via Greek spellings, from a Hebrew Qumran self-designation 'osey hatorah (observers of torah)--the source in effect predicted by scholars for centuries before the discovery--then unaccountably dismisses such as lack of explicit evidence (see DSS After 50 Years vol.2). We can now see the once-popular Aramaic proposals have no Qumran support. The Pliny article could have noted that his source's description of Essenes at Qumran was written in the rule of Herod the Great, when Ein Gedi (and *not* Jerusalem, as the H. Rackham [d. 1944], not Rackman, trans. has misled many to think) was still destroyed, an ashheap/graveyard, so not a toparchy, from fighting c. 40 BC. Yet another reason Y. Hirschfeld's Ein Gedi site, too late and too small, does not fit Pliny's Essenes. The Damascus article presents sect orgins in Babylon as if obvious, rather than a distinctly minority view. Numismatics well presents Herodian occupation at Qumran, but the later phase proposal raises questions, e.g., just who would accept Judaea Capta coins? Bibliography is endless. But surely the growing list of essays that 4Q448 is *against* Jonathan deserves to be noted. Not least because the two Jonathans --not Simon as one article has it--are the two which have been proposed most often over the last 50 years as "wicked priest," and the good chronological archaeology revisions here by Magness and others now tend to favor the later one, Jannaeus. Why no Dimant article in Angels bibliography? Why not S. Wagner in Pythagoraeans? But full consensus is not to be expected--and has never existed--in all aspects of scroll study. This Encyclopedia overall is an excellent and useful contribution to learning on this important history. I certainly recommend it, especially to libraries which aid history research.
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