on January 30, 2003
This book needs to be considered alongside _The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated_ edited by Florentino Garcia-Martinez. Both are "comprehensive" translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls which have become available since the end of the embargo in the fall of 1991.
Wise, Abegg, and Cook organize this book primarily by the Qumran manuscript number. The exceptions are the manuscripts found in Cave 1 which have no number. These appear at the beginning of the book along with other manuscripts which relate to the same text. So for example, the Thanksgiving Scroll appears at the beginning of the book along with 4Q427-432. The Damascus Document also appears at the beginning of this book along with manuscripts Geniza A and B.
At the end of the book there is a helpful index of DSS manuscripts and the page(s) on which they may be found. There is also an index of references to other liturature, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and Rabbinic texts. So for example the editors find some connection between 4Q525 and Matthew 5.3-10. Both are beatitudes.
It is not a disadvantage of this book that it contains no Hebrew texts. I find that I want to look at photos of the manuscripts and judge the translations for myself. Nor is it a disadvantage of this book that it does not contain any biblical texts. Those may be found in a translated form in Martin Abegg's _Dead Sea Scrolls Bible_.
The advantage this book does have is its commentary. The editors have brought numerous significant items to the the attention of the reader which the non-specialist probably had not noticed. Even so, the commentary will bring some enlightenment to DSS specialists as well.
on October 30, 2002
This volume is an excellent book to either start or enhance one's study of the scrolls discovered near Qumran, commonly referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Although there has been some negative critique, (see other reviews) this book is very unbiased and scholarly in nature. Yes, there is an added commentary, and words filled in where there were no words preserved, but that is besides the fact. There has been no cover-up attempt to claim that these added texts are somehow the original; a guide at the beginning of the book clearly explains how to see what was actually contained in the scrolls and what was not. The commentary is necessary especially for those who have never looked in the scrolls at all to begin with, to at least give a basic framework. By nature, any commentary will have a level of bias - but it's not as though the book claims to have an inspired commentary - ignore the commentary if you're solely interested in the text!
I have had Dr. Wise for several graduate-level classes, and he has been very scholarly in his teaching, presenting the information that is known, and only on rare occasion giving his actual opinion instead of simply what has been discovered. His area of specialty is the Second Temple period in which the Dead Sea Scrolls play a significant role, which is one reason why he is so involved with them, and why this particular volume is so well written: it from the perspective of one who really cares about the issues surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I would recommend this volume to anyone as a fascinating source for study.
on June 17, 2002
[...] These texts were not filled in. The point is-this is what the texts say! The parallels in terminology and phraseology are astounding. These are the texts that the early Christian writers of the New Testament were familiar with. Though the New Testament gospels may be reedited and reworked documents of the 4th century, they were still largely born in phrase and genre, from these writings. These Jews were most likely the Jews who gave rise to the Christians. These Jews used a different calendar than the Pharisees, the solar rather than the lunar calendar. There is an ancient Christian writing called the Didache which begins with a piece called "The Two Ways," there is a scroll fragment of the same title, and on and on. It would be insane to attempt to bury these facts in the name of some perverse political correctness.
So many long held beliefs about the origins of Christian ideology have been attributed to Greco-Roman influence. We now know this wasn't the case. These early Christians were Jewish, not the Jews we know today, for the Pharisees were the only sect left in numbers great enough to route history after the great slaughters by the Romans at Masada and Qumran. These freedom fighters that were massacred are our scroll writers or carriers as some of the writings were from earlier centuries. These people were all but forgotten and unknown until their writings and sacred texts were found in these caves around Qumran.
This brings us to the next point I would like to make as to why you should have and read this book. The Universe doesn't revolve around the Earth, bleeding people (extracting quantities of blood) is not an efficacious treatment for the sick, ulcers are not universally caused by stress and the Dead Sea Scrolls were not composed at Qumran by the Essene's or anyone else. Where these scrolls came from, who these people were, what they fought for and how they died is important. This book does great service in helping to repair the unforgivable damage done through shoddy scholarship and attribution by Father Roland de Vaux in his early excavations. This is now the conclusion of most scholars who didn't already invest their entire identity as academics on the first hypothesis.
on June 12, 2001
In reading "James the Brother of Jesus" by Robert Eisenman, I found that I needed a translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I chose this edition over Vermes, who makes use of pseudo-biblical archaic language in his translations, because the language in Wise is clear and modern, and the introductions are excellent. My reservation is due to a puzzling ediorial decision: there are no informative headers on the pages to let the reader know at a glance which scroll is being looked at, particularly annoying in the longer scrolls. What is gained by inconviencing the the reader?
on December 19, 2014
Book is still not 100%. Will buy the next one when the translating is complete. Became useful on some debates that said the old Testament tells us to stone a girl if she is raped and doesn't cry out (NIV Version Deut. 22 : 23-24). This direct translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls tells a different story. It says that if this happens then the parties involved should be brought before the TOWN ELDERS to decide if they should be stoned to death. It does say to stone them but the town elders involvement shows some decision making must be made since misunderstandings can occur. This brought great relief to me since we can all see there may be extenuating circumstances that would rule out killing anyone. After all, the Ten commandments prohibit killing. This one Old Testament rule also leads one to the conclusion that if a stoning is necessary then there must have been some allowed killing in the old days. Eye for an eye just doesn't work either if one is to follow the peaceful ways of Jesus who said to do unto your bother as you would have them do unto you. In other words, don't kill. This also points out that the only true path to the book of life is through him. Begging god for forgiveness without Jesus is unheard by the father. Clear logical deductive reasoning, not an attempt to undermine the faith of others who reason killing is pointed out as allowed in the old days so lets do it again. Such people could never believe in Jesus unless they are shown that Jesus has unlimited forgiveness for all who trust and believe in him. After all, Jesus is god who has the power to do anything for anybody. Never the less, bottom line, sin causes death (ROMANS 6:23).