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The Dead Sea Scrolls Today [Paperback]

By James C. Vanderkam (Author)
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Item Number 144189  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.97" Width: 6" Height: 0.67"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 31, 1994
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802807364  
EAN  9780802807366  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Get the most up-to-date analysis of the work and controversy behind the Dead Sea Scrolls from a member of the international team that's editing and translating them! VanderKam examines the major subjects of scroll studies: the discoveries of the manuscripts and nearby archaeological remains during the 1940s and 1950s; the methods used to date the scrolls and the ruins; the content and character of the texts themselves; the identity, history, and beliefs of the people who lived in the Qumran area; and the scrolls' contributions to Old and New Testament studies. This is a scrupulous survey of the scrolls---one of the most exciting discoveries for scholars and believers everywhere. Includes plenty of black & white photographs.

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More About James C. Vanderkam

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James C. VanderKam, Ph.D. (1976), Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literature, Harvard University, is John A. O'Brien Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at the University of Notre Dame. His main publications are The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Eerdmans, 1994) and The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment (Brill, 1998, 1999).

James C. VanderKam has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Biblical Resource
  2. Biblical Scholarship in North America
  3. Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum Ad Novum Testamentum
  4. Guides to the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
  5. Hermeneia: A Critical & Historical Commentary on the Bible

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Archaeology   [397  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Dead Sea Scrolls   [203  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General   [6817  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General   [3019  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > General   [688  similar products]
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings   [136  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Dead Sea Scrolls primer  May 23, 2003
If you have read articles and heard references, and would like to know more about the Dead Sea Scrolls; if you are interested in the development of the Hebrew Scriptures, and would like more background; if you are interested in life in Israel around the time of Christ; if these or other similar questions apply to your interests, this is a book for you.

James VanderKam, professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Notre Dame (Indiana, not Paris), and member of the official international team charged with preservation, reconstruction and translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, has put together a one-volume introduction and exposition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is an accessible volume that presupposes no particular background of study in language, hermeneutics, biblical development, or archaeology. Yet, it does not 'talk down' to the audience either, and even the most advanced scholar will find in this volume an excellent encapsulation of the subject.

VanderKam begins his survey with a brief history of the discoveries. This includes a discussion of the caves, geographically and geologically. Then he addresses the ruins of Qumran, which has two components--a building complex, and a cemetery: cemeteries are archaeological treasure-troves, but problematic when dealing with religious sensibilities about disturbing gravesites. Also he talks about methods of dating scrolls and ruins (methods from carbon-14 dating, a process discovered providentially the same year as the first cave with scrolls; paleographic methods, coin and pottery analysis, etc.). Finally, the first section concludes with some various theories about the Qumran location--is it a monastery with a scriptorium, a villa with a large dining hall, a tradepost, or a rebel fortress?

VanderKam then has an survey section on the manuscripts themselves. There are various types of manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, including biblical texts: Hebrew scrolls, targums (Aramaic translations), tefillin and mezuot (scripture pieces with liturgical/prayerful use); apocryphal texts, including biblical apocryphal, pseudopigrapha and other like texts; commentaries, paraphrases, legalistic texts, liturgical and wisdom texts, and 'sectarian' texts, which include the enigmatic eschatological writings about final battles between good and evil, the Wicked Priest and the Teacher of Righteousness.

The third section discusses in more detail the current state of thinking about the Essenes, who they were and what they believed. This includes outside evidence (such as the writings of Pliny and Josephus), as well as internal (Dead Sea Scroll) explanations of theology and practice. VanderKam also addresses the problems of attaching the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Essenes, and includes a brief discussion of the theories that the Scrolls belonged to a Jerusalem sect or to the Sadducees.

The fourth section, however, expands upon the theories that the Essenes were responsible for the Scrolls and were the inhabitants of Qumran (which is the current reigning theory), and talks about their community, worship, thought, and practice. It sketches the most-likely history of Essenes at Qumran based on current archaeological excavation.

The fifth and sixth sections are perhaps the most interesting to those interested in the biblical tie-ins to the Scrolls. In section five, VanderKam discusses similarities and differences of the scrolls with the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and other commonly-held authoritative texts. He also discusses in detail the difference, minor and major, found in each book, as well as some interesting bits (no fragments, for instance, have been found for the book of Esther, although every other book in the Hebrew Scriptures has been accounted for in the scrolls and fragments). Some of the differences have been used to show variants that were accepted at the time of Jesus (first century Judaism), which could account for the apparent mis-quotations of Hebrew Scripture in the New Testament writings.

The Dead Sea Scrolls contain no verifiable, undisputable fragments of New Testament writings. This is not surprising, given that most of the Scrolls were buried during or after the revolts against the Romans during the later half of the first century, and most New Testament writings had not been written and circulated by then (even the earliest of Paul's letters would have only just been composed at this time; insufficient time for dissemination and copying would have passed for them to make it to the library of the scrolls). There is the occasional media stir when a fragment parallels a gospel piece; thus far, however, there has been major doubt over ever potential New Testament claim.

The sixth section, therefore, in dealing with the Scrolls and the New Testament, deals primarily with similarities of teaching and practice among the scrolls and the early Christian movement, including communal mean and property issues, eschatological issues, messianism, ethics, and common disputes with 'mainstream' Judaisms.

VanderKam concludes with a brief discussion, from an insiders perspective, of the controversies surrounding the translation and release of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some of the events since 1989 that have led to the general release and proliferation of materials available about the Scrolls from non-official sources.

In all, this is a very balanced, fair, well-written and engaging introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls, bound to satisfy many who want more information, and to whet the appetite of those who can't get enough information!

Excellent Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls  Jul 29, 2002
VanderKam's work is a pleasure to read. He covers a great deal of ground in his short 210 page book. Because it was targeted for a wide audience it is concise, clear, and avoids the minutiae that often bog down scholarly texts. As a member of the international team of scholars translating the scrolls, VanderKam has first hand information and an insider's insight into the scrolls and the debates raging around them. Although he book is used as a college text, it could just as easily be used for Bible studies and history buffs.

The topics include the discovery of the scrolls, the content of the scrolls, theories on the scrolls' authorship and history, the impact of the scrolls on biblical texts and finally the controversies surrounding the scrolls. Each section is brief but thorough. Perhaps the book's most helpful feature is guiding the reader through the vast spectrum of scroll scholarship, pointing out which theories are most widely held and which are on the lunatic fringe.

good in archaeology  Jun 12, 2002
I quite enjoyed 2/3 of the book for Vanderkam's writing is clear. So i'll not repeat what the previous reviewers have written.

my biggest gripe is at times, he seems too eager to defend theinternational team or committee of which he is a member. One cannotdeny that almost all members of the team are Chrisitans & none of them was Jewish. (Jordan would not have allowed any Jewish scholar.) Eventho I do not buy the Vatican conspiracy theory in "DDS Conspiracy,"the objectivity of the team is questionable, no matter how hard theymay try.

in Chap. 3, he asserts that all evidence suggests they existed "well
before the time of Jesus" (to debunk that DSS is not damaging to Christianity like the theories of Eiseman & Thiering that DDS was contemporary to Jesus's time). Yet, in Table 1 (p.18) where he lists the datings of few scrolls, some of them have been dated much later,around the same time of Jesus...

The most bizzare comment of his is on p.197, "Only some moral pressure was to be exerted on users so that team members would not be deprived of the right to first publication of the texts they had been studying for years."...

If you like Bible mysteries also read new Proverbs book.  Jan 15, 2000
The Dead Sea Scrolls Today has great pictures of the Bedouins who found the scrolls, want ads placed in the Wall Street Journal offering the Dead Sea scrolls for sale, pictures of the scrolls & caves & Qumran community. Fascinating texts are explained such as the Melchizedek Text found in Cave 11. Melchizedek was the priest-king of Salem who met Abram after he had defeated the kings and rescued Lot. Psalm 110.4 speaks of Melchizedek's eternal priesthood and Hebrews presents Christ as a priest after the order of Melchizedek. In the Melchizedek Text, the Qumran people thought of him as the angel Melchizedek who would participate in the last judgment. If you enjoy Bible mysteries you may also find fascinating THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE BOOK OF PROVERBS by Cody Jones which unveils surprising new revelations on authorship on Old Testament books of Proverbs, Isaiah, Song of Songs and Job. The identitiy of King Solomon's secret ghostwriter for the book of Proverbs is unveiled for the first time in any commentary. Many other mysteries and riddles of Proverbs and the Old Testament are explored with surprising new answers.
Weak to deal with the non-archealogica side of the scrolls  Jan 31, 1999
Prof VanderKam does an excellent job in summarising the "objective" side of the scrolls. That is, the book is a good source of information on the archeological aspects of the documents; it is very well organised. However, the author is extremely superficial when dealing with the controversy sorrounding its meaning and interpretation.

As the book was published in the UK by the "Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge", the author is quick to discredit any theories proposed by other schollars that may challenge the views of the lack of relationship between the established beliefs of the Christian church and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It is rather unfortunate that a well-known researcher on the topic of the Dead Sea Scrolls looses his objective thus not being prepared to advance any theories that may upset the establishment.


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