The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English

Penguin UK
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The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judaean desert between 1947 and 1956 transformed our understanding of the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism and the origins of Christianity. These extraordinary manuscripts appear to have been hidden in the caves at Quumran by members of the Essene community, a Jewish sect in existence before and during the time of Jesus. Some sixty years after the Scrolls' first discovery, this revised and much expanded edition of The Dead Sea Scrolls in English crowns a lifetime of research by the great Qumran scholar Geza Vermes.

As well as superb translations of all non-biblical texts sufficiently well preserved to be rendered into English, there are also a number of previously unpublished texts, and a new preface.

Since its first publication in 1962, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English has established itself as the standard English translation of the non-Biblical Qumran Scrolls and as giving an astonishing insight to the organization, customs, history and beliefs of the community responsible for them. This edition will contain new material, together with extensive new introductory material and notes.

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About the author

Geza Vermes was born in Hungary in 1924. He studied in Budapest and Louvain. He was the first Professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford. His other books published by Penguin are The Changing Faces of Jesus and The Authentic Gospel of Jesus.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin UK
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Published on
Jun 24, 2004
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Pages
720
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ISBN
9780141901930
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Antiquities & Archaeology
Religion / Biblical Studies / Exegesis & Hermeneutics
Religion / Judaism / Sacred Writings
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered more than 60 years ago in seaside caves near an ancient settlement called Qumran. The conventional wisdom is that a breakaway Jewish sect called the Essenes—thought to have occupied Qumran during the first centuries B.C. and A.D.—wrote all the parchment and papyrus scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, in the narrow sense of Qumran Caves Scrolls are a collection of some 981 different texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 in eleven caves in the immediate vicinity of the ancient settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank, The caves are located about two kilometres (1.2 miles) inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name.

The consensus is that the Qumran Caves Scrolls date from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. Bronze coins found at the same sites form a series beginning with John Hyrcanus (135–104 BCE) and continuing until the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), supporting the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls.

Manuscripts from additional Judean desert sites go back as far as the eighth century BCE to as late as the 11th century CE.

The texts are of great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the third oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism.

Biblical text older than the Dead Sea Scrolls has been discovered only in two silver scroll-shaped amulets containing portions of the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers, excavated in Jerusalem at Ketef Hinnom and dated c. 600 BCE. A burnt piece of Leviticus dating from the 6th century CE analyzed in 2015 was found to be the fourth-oldest piece of the Torah known to exist.

Most of the texts are written in Hebrew, with some in Aramaic (in different regional dialects, including Nabataean), and a few in Greek. If discoveries from the Judean desert are included, Latin (from Masada) and Arabic (from Khirbet al-Mird) can also be added. Most texts are written on parchment, some on papyrus and one on copper.

The scrolls have traditionally been identified with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this association and argue that the scrolls were penned by priests in Jerusalem, Zadokites or other unknown Jewish groups.

Due to the poor condition of some of the scrolls, not all of them have been identified. Those that have been identified can be divided into three general groups:

- Some 40% of them are copies of texts from the Hebrew Scriptures.

- Approximately another 30% of them are texts from the Second Temple Period which ultimately were not canonized in the Hebrew Bible, like the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Tobit, the Wisdom of Sirach, Psalms 152–155, etc.

- The remaining roughly 30% of them are sectarian manuscripts of previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group (sect) or groups within greater Judaism, like the Community Rule, the War Scroll, the Pesher on Habakkuk and The Rule of the Blessing.

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