From the dramatic find in the caves of Qumran, the world's most ancient version of the Bible allows us to read the scriptures as they were in the time of Jesus.
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible comprises the biblical manuscripts, including many new Psalms, Apocryphal books, and previously unknown readings of Deuteronomy and Isaiah (which appear to have been among the most important books of the Bible to this group of Essenes). The translation of each book is preceded by an introduction that describes the text's importance to the Essenes, their distinctive interpretations of the text, and suggestions of how historical and political events may have shaped these interpretations. Translators Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich have loaded this volume with scholarly notes and commentary, but their interpretations are formatted in a way that does not impede the general reader's enjoyment of the book. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible breathes new life into scripture by delving into the earliest source material yet discovered. It is a crucial work to reckon with for anyone interested in Jewish life around the time of Jesus. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"[5."You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them, for I the Lord] your. [G]od..."
Translating this means we just have the word "your" and "...od" from the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is impossible to know if these words really were meant to be part of this sentence or not. By doing this, the authors make it appear that there are only a few thousand minor differences between the Dead Sea Scrolls Text and the later Masoretic Texts. In fact, what we find is thousands of differences in just the small portion of the Dead Sea Scroll texts we have, which represents less than 10% of the entire Masoretic Texts. (And we can't even judge how much of this 10% is in the right order) So on the one hand if one carefully analyzes the text, one does find that the Biblical Text in the 1st Century was incredibly different from the 10th century Biblical text, but the book seems designed to purposefully to give the opposite impression. Very misleading, but still valuable. Hopefully, someone will publish just the Dead Sea Scroll fragments, so readers can make their own assessment of what was found.
'Preserving parts of all but one biblical book, the scrolls confirm that the text of the Old Testament as it has been handed down through the ages is largely correct. Yet, they also reveal numerous important differences.'
(Do you know which book is not included? For the answer, see the bottom of this article.)
This book presents material from all 220 of the biblical scrolls (there are hundreds of other scrolls that were not biblical, i.e., not copies of biblical texts). These were newly translated by Eugene Ulrich, Peter Flint, and Martin Abegg, who hold important positions in the continuing research and scholarship about the scrolls. These editors have also added commentary to help illuminate further the textual variations between the scrolls and the texts we have today.
'At the time of Jesus and rabbi Hillel--the origins of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism--there was, and there was not, a 'Bible'. This critical period, and the nature of the Bible in that period, have been freshly illuminated by the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls. There was a Bible in the sense that there were certain sacred books widely recognised by Jews as foundational to their religion and supremely authoritative for religious practice. There was not, however, a Bible in the sense that the leaders of the general Jewish community had specifically considered, debated, and definitively decided the full range of which books were supremely and permanently authoritative and which ones--no matter how sublime, useful, or beloved--were not.'
The editors first discuss what a Bible is, and what constitutes the arrangements, order, and contents -- the Jewish Tanakh and the Protestant Old Testament contain the same materials, arranged differently; the Catholic Old Testament follows the same order as the Protestant but has other books (in whole or part), which hearkens back to early biblical development and whether the scriptures follow rabbinical council decisions or the Septuagint.
The text is heavily annotated, with verse numbers, explanatory notes, gaps and fuzzy sections due to scroll problems, variant readings, and footnote annotations which include scroll identification (cave, scroll number, book, etc.) and ancient biblical texts (Masoretic text, Septuagint, and Samaritan pentateuch).
This is an incredibly useful text for those who are interested in what information the Dead Sea Scrolls have to bear on the actual text of the Bible. Here for the first time is a collection of the biblical scrolls laid out in the traditional Biblical order, which enables the average reader as well as the scholar and cleric to follow the texts with ease.
To answer the question above, the missing book among the biblical scrolls is the book of Esther. Why would Esther be missing? The editors give some possibilities:
'First, the fact that the festival of Purim was a later addition, not mentioned in the Books of Moses, might have caused the Dead Sea Scrolls community to reject the book. Second, the mere fact that the story concerns the marriage of Esther--a Jew--to a Persian king was likely repugnant to the group's conservative sensibilities. Third, the book itself makes no mention of God whatsoever. Finally, the emphasis on retaliation in the final chapters of Esther is contrary to the teachings of the Dead Sea Scrolls.'
A truly fascinating and useful text.