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The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity [Paperback]

By James VanderKam (Author) & Peter Flint (Author)
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Item description for The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity by James VanderKam & Peter Flint...

A comprehensive introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls covers their teachings, the community that created them, their significance for understanding Judaism and the Hebrew Bible, and their relationship to Christianity. Reprint.

Publishers Description

The story of the discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls has become a part of Western lore. Who has not heard about the Bedouin shepherd who threw a rock into a cave, heard a crash, went in to explore, and found the scrolls? The story in that form may be accurate, but it turns out to be something of a simplification. As a matter of fact, much remains unknown about the exact circumstances under which those scrolls were discovered. The story of the discovery at first deals with just one cave; the other ten were located at later times.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   467
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 7.97" Height: 1.35"
Weight:   1.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 12, 2004
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060684658  
ISBN13  9780060684655  
UPC  099455021951  

Availability  0 units.

More About James VanderKam & Peter Flint

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James VanderKam is John A. O'Brien Professor of Hebrew Scriptures, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.

James VanderKam has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Notre Dame University of Notre Dame, Indiana University.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Bibles > Other
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Dead Sea Scrolls
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > Biblical History & Culture

Reviews - What do customers think about The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity?

Exceptional Textbook  May 8, 2008
I have been facinated w/ the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran my entire life. My wife and I are finally taking a trip to Israel this summer, Qumran being one of the sites we're visiting. This is not a "guidebook", nor a tourist outline. It is an exceptional, college-level textbook covering the entire topic of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is comprehensive, expansive and entirely accurate. It doesn't offer speculation or supposition, but rather reveals the absolute truths of what happened, what was found and what it means. For anyone who wants to learn about the Dead Sea Scrolls, this is a must read.
A very good intro to the DSS  Dec 28, 2006
There are introductions... and introductions to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most of them serve strange hypotheses. Because they hope to sell well, they are often creations espousing the authors' pet theories. Otherwise, they are academic and soporific. The discussion of Qumran archaeology, the biblical and sectarian texts themselves and their relationship to the canon and Jesus is fair, comprehensive for the layman, clear and level-headed. Flint and Vanderam's intro steers deftly between the Scylla of sensationalism and the Charybdis of dullness. It is well-organized, very readable, and...not expensive (as Scrolls literature, especially, academic ones, go).
Any beginning self-learner of the Scrolls and its secondary literature will benefit from this well-written book.
Historical Relevance !  Feb 6, 2005
This is the best book about the Dead Sea Scrolls for amateurs, being also excellent for scholars.
An introduction that does a great job  Sep 22, 2004
This book is part introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and part overview of the texts and the work done by scholars since their discovery. It is not a detailed academic work, but it doesn't set out to be. It is intended for the intelligent reader to gain a good insight into the scrolls, their history, the significance of the texts, and the work that is being done. In this respect, it achieves its objective.

I like this book because it is possible to pick it up without any great knowledge of paleography or patristics, yet still be able to make sense of it, and gain some perspective at the same time.

If you are interested in finding out about these fascinating texts, and if you want an intelligent yet readable work, this is the book for you.
If you only get one book on the scrolls, this should be it  Jun 29, 2004
James Vanderkam and Peter Flint are names well-known to those who follow the scrolls. Each has contributed their own work in book and article form to the body of literature about the Dead Sea Scrolls. This volume, 'The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus and Christianity' is one of the most comprehensive, in-depth and well-organised introductions and overviews of the scrolls done to date. Published just a few years ago, it takes into consideration all but the very latest of scroll research and publication. As Emmanuel Tov, another name well known to scroll aficionados, states in the foreword, the publication of information about the scrolls has proceeded so rapidly during the past decade that it has become necessary for a new volume such as this to provide an adequate introduction to the scrolls.

In the first part, Vanderkam and Flint give an overview of the discovery and identification of the scrolls. This includes discussion of the acquisitions and explorations, the dating processes, and the archaeological digs around the site at Qumran. The authors also discuss the use of technology in the processes around the Dead Sea Scrolls; processes such as Carbon-14 dating were in their infancy during the time the scrolls were first discovered - both technology and scroll knowledge have come a long way in the past 55 years.

The second section looks at the relationship of the scrolls to scripture. The chapters here look almost exclusively at the Hebrew Bible; questions regarding the New Testament are reserved for a later section. The scrolls contained at least some portions of every text of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament save (perhaps) Esther; there are also apocryphal and pseudipigraphical texts among the scrolls. This section shows some of the multi-task use of the book - in discussing the relationship of the scrolls to the canon of scripture, they go into some detail about what is meant by the use of the term 'canonical', and what constitutes the canon of scripture for the Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox bibles. This makes this an excellent text book for biblical studies classes in addition to a book for the general reader.

The third section surveys the nonbiblical scrolls - phylacteries, commentaries, community documents, and more. In addition to looking at these texts, the authors recreate from them a possible portrait of the community at Qumran, providing of course that one accepts that the scrolls are related to the Qumran site. The authors mention various interpretations at different points, but largely concentrate on the most commonly accepted interpretation, which is that the Qumran group was a part of the Essenes, one of the three primary groups of Judaism identified by Josephus as being present in the late Second Temple period. This section also addresses some of the more interesting characters found within the writing of the scrolls, the Teacher of Righteousness and the Wicked Priest.

The fourth section takes up the issue of relationships between the scrolls and the New Testament. The authors discount the various claims that New Testament fragments have been found among the scrolls, while not ruling out that such discoveries might in fact occur. However, the primary claims have largely been discounted. The connections between Essene thinking and practice and some early Christians, however, is stronger, but not to the extent that Jesus or John the Baptist can be identified as Essenes (or, as is also sometimes speculated, Zealots). The authors take issue with those whose sensational interpretations (Allegro, Thiering, et al.) rest on shaky extrapolations.

The final primary section gives a good account of the controversial history of the scrolls, looking at the governmental politics, the academic politics, the sensational and sometimes outlandish conspiracy theories about the restrictions placed on the scrolls and the content of 'hidden' scrolls, and the long court battle that resulted from the publication by Herschel Shanks and others of a famous 120-line text, 4QMMT, made far more remarkable for the problems of publication than it perhaps ever would be as a part of the larger body of scrolls.

Authors Vanderkam and Flint provide several appendices, including indexes, quotations and allusions, and a good listing of further readings, including translations of the scrolls in book, microfiche and electronic forms. The book has a very generous collection of photographs, charts, graphs, line-art drawings and maps. There are useful highlight boxes and technical detail boxes to focus upon particular important points. The general layout of the book is very nice, easy to read and visually interesting.

A great book!


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