Item description for The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls & Related Literature) by Jodi Magness...
Overview The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most interesting and important archaeological discoveries ever made, and the excavation of the Qumran community itself has provided invaluable information about Judaism and the Jewish world in the last centuries B.C.E. Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, the Qumran site continues to be the object of intense scholarly debate. In a book meant to introduce general readers to this fascinating area of study, veteran archaeologist Jodi Magness here provides an overview of the archaeology of Qumran and presents an exciting new interpretation of this ancient community based on information found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other contemporary documents. Magness's work offers a number of fresh conclusions concerning life at Qumran. She agrees that Qumran was a sectarian settlement but rejects other unconventional views, including the view that Qumran was a villa rustica or manor house. By carefully analyzing the published information on Qumran, she refines the site's chronology, reinterprets the purpose of some of its rooms, and reexamines the archaeological evidence for the presence of women and children in the settlement. Numerous photos and diagrams give readers a firsthand look at the site. Written with an expert's insight yet with a journalist's spunk, this engaging book is sure to reinvigorate discussion of this monumental archaeological find.
Publishers Description The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most interesting and important archaeological discoveries ever made, and the excavation of the Qumran community itself has provided invaluable information about Judaism and the Jewish world in the last centuries B.C.E. Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, the Qumran site continues to be the object of intense scholarly debate. In a book meant to introduce general readers to this fascinating area of study, veteran archaeologist Jodi Magness here provides an overview of the archaeology of Qumran and presents an exciting new interpretation of this ancient community based on information found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other contemporary documents. Magness's work offers a number of fresh conclusions concerning life at Qumran. She agrees that Qumran was a sectarian settlement but rejects other unconventional views, including the view that Qumran was a villa rustica or manor house. By carefully analyzing the published information on Qumran, she refines the site's chronology, reinterprets the purpose of some of its rooms, and reexamines the archaeological evidence for the presence of women and children in the settlement. Numerous photos and diagrams give readers a firsthand look at the site. Written with an expert's insight yet with a journalist's spunk, this engaging book is sure to reinvigorate discussion of this monumental archaeological find.
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.4" Width: 6.26" Height: 0.78" Weight: 0.95 lbs.
Release Date Jul 2, 2003
Publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Series Studies In The Dead Sea Scrolls And Related Litera
ISBN 0802826873 ISBN13 9780802826879
Availability 0 units.
More About Jodi Magness
Jodi Magness is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the author and editor of several books, including Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus (2011), The Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine (2003) and The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2002).
Jodi Magness has an academic affiliation as follows - University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls & Related Literature)?
BEST OF ARCHAEOLOGY Mar 8, 2007
Most work on Qumran & the Dead Sea Scrolls is of a theological nature. This is the finest work I have found from an archaeological perspective. It is technical enough for the professionals and interesting for the lay people. It was a fitting prelude to visiting the actual exhibit.
Strong on archaeology weak on history Sep 15, 2005
Aimed, it seems, rather more at the academic scholar, the book offers some useful insights into the archaeology of Qumran and its associated sites - evidenced by the academic level of the above reviews. For the lay person, however, it will prove rather hard going. Magness is a consensus supporter, but it is refreshing to read some subjects looked at from a feminine viewpoint; a direction most consensus and other male commentators rarely bother to address. She thus considers the role of women in the 'Essene' set up, in terms of dress, burial, adornments, artefacts, and ritual participation, more acutely than others. In supporting the main contentions of Roland de Vaux and the Ecole team, she follows the main line, that Qumran was a sectarian settlement and the occupants wrote and possessed what are referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the light of the evidence, which she sets out rather well, and the conclusions of other high-powered scholars like George Brooke, Geza Vermes, Rohrhirsch, Schiffman, Lim etc it is perplexing that some other, quite respected scholars, still persist in postulating weired theories about the purpose of the Qumran Community. A test of their credibility in this respect is that they are invariably lone voices, with few supporters, touting theories that conflict with all the other lone voices as well as the mainstream. Their voices tend to become increasingly strident and ears increasingly muffled as they become more isolated. Magness has little time for these alternative theories, and shows it somewhat abrasively. If there are weaknesses in her presentation they relate to her historical analyses. As she rightly points out herself archaeologists look at materials and historians look at texts. As an archaeologist she is strong in the former area but weak in the latter and perhaps should not have expressed so many strong opinions on matters of historical texts. For instance she refers to the Copper Scroll, as being insribed on "sheets of bronze". How can copper be bronze? All the analytical evidence shows that the original materials was at least 99% pure copper. She states the Masoretic Text became authoritative c 100 CE, whereas the Masoretic Text was not standardised until the 10th century CE. She misunderstands the relationship of the Yahad (Community)stream to the First Temple, let alone the Second and the significance of the Essenes in relations to the New Testament. Magness is on firmer ground with her archaeological assessments, but even here her new chronology is not completely convincing. She has the 'Essenes' coming to Qumran c 100 BCE wherreas de Vaux estimates 130 BCE, and I favour an even earlier date. Part of her reasoning is that "De Vaux found no coins associated with Period 1a", whereas he found pottery and at least 11 coins dated to c135 BC. In considering the numismatics of the site she makes no mention that a huge proportion of the original finds have 'gone missing', which together with the fact that de Vaux's orignal notes have still not been made available, means any firm chronology is even more difficult to determine. One uncorrected typo gives the distance of Cave 4 to Khirbet Qumran as 500 m, whereas it is actually more like 250 m. This is particularly unfortunate as the proximity of Cave 4 is significant in making the case for a connectioon between the caves and the settlement. When it comes to digging around in the cemetery there is one statement that needs explanation, especially in relation to my own recently published study. Magness refers to nine skeletons that were recently discovered in storage in Jerusalem. This statement conflicts with other reports.
Great to read - Best information! May 31, 2005
Everyone who wants to resolve the question "Who lived in Qumran" should read this book. I was able to see the de Vaux material from the excavations in the magazines and to see his files about the famous dig and I can prove that Prof. Magnes did a tremendeous job! She shows new answers in the questions when the settlement started. She shows clearly the problems in all the theories of a fortress, villa, farm and others. Only one thing can be true. Either there is a connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls or not! So you can't take away the Dead Sea Scrolls, cause there texts explain a lot. For me the book is the best to read for the interested public. From 14th of June till the end of July 2006 we will have a new dig in Qumran. We'll see if we will find new evidence about this question. Alexander Schick www.bibelausstellung.de
Good Author, Good Writing, Incomplete Analysis May 17, 2005
This book is the best primer out there for those interested in learning about the "Essene Hypothesis," or the theory that Qumran was inhabited by the Essene Jewish sect as described by Josephus which also produced all of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Magness is a good author and presents an easy-to-follow outline in which she uses textual and archaeological evidence to buttress her claims.
Magness also leaves out the considerable body of evidence that does not support her conclusions. In the opinion of several scholars, she traffics in assumptions, overinterprets the material evidence, and many of her exegeses of textual sources are questionable.
The Essene hypothesis was the first one proposed to explain the existence of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, back when the site and the scrolls were in the process of first being excavated and discovered (respectively) in the 1950's. Magness has stuck to the original interpretation - the only place she challenges it is in her revision of Qumran site chronology. She also refers sarcastically to scholars who have come to different conclusions.
Magness states that even though the full body of evidence (ie. field notes, material remains) is still not available from the 1950's expeditions at Qumran, it will not affect the validity of the Essene hypothesis.
In other words, the author has a firm opinion on the subject of who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. For a balanced perspective, I would recommend following this book with work by scholars who have challenged the Essene hypothesis.
Fifty years of going nowhere Nov 8, 2004
"The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls" is somewhat of a misnomer. The book is a species of archaeological apology for the Essene Hypothesis, the belief that Qumran was a sectarian settlement. In Tel Aviv 27 (2000) Jodi Magness and David Amit presented a response to Yizhar Hirschfeld's "A Settlement of Hermits above `En Gedi" to which Hirschfeld provided a rejoinder (not cited in Magness's bibliographic notes) in which he mentioned two methodological flaws in their response, the first, "the erroneous use of sectarian writings found at Qumran as a historical source for analysis of the archaeology of the Essenes" and the second, "the indiscriminant application of Josephus's general descriptions of the Essenes to the Essenes of the Judean Desert." Magness is still working under the same misconception, ie that she can assume that the similarities (with the site and with Josephus's reports of the Essenes) found in the "sectarian" scrolls are sufficient to presume that the texts represent the Essenes and the site.
As a functional alternative hypothesis to the Essene production of the scrolls has been put forward, ie that the scrolls came from Jerusalem religious circles, one must wonder how Magness can opt for a hypothesis which explains fewer of the facts manifested regarding the scrolls, such as why there are at least 700 scribal hands visible in the 850 scrolls, or why the (elected) leaders of a celibate community should be hereditarily defined as the "sons of Zadok", or why so many of the features we learn about the Essenes from classical sources are contradicted in the scrolls or the archaeology.
For the last of these though an interesting fudge has been employed regarding Josephus, ie that he reports only those things that took his fancy and not the whole truth. This means that when one comes across something which apparently contradicts Josephus's indications, such as a toilet within the settlement, one can say that Josephus wasn't interested in such mundane things or perhaps simply didn't know about it. But this type of analysis then leads to arbitrary choice of which facts suits one's theories.
The toilet should be a warning to Magness to rethink her analysis, yet she has attempted to defend it at least four times in print (this being merely the latest), recognizing that its presence contradicts the classical information we know about the Essenes. Worse than the toilet is her analysis of the large room she calls a dining room. This is because in the room next door there were found a thousand odd eating bowls and assorted ceramic wares, so it must have been a "pantry". It is incredible enough that her sources advocate about 120-150 diners, meaning that these diners must have had at least four bowls each, considering Josephus tells us "the cook serves only one bowlful of one dish to each man." (BJ 2,8,5; 2.131), but more reasonable estimates of the population of Qumran based on analyses of archaeologist Joseph Patrich would be 20-50, meaning around twelve bowls per person. Yet more incredible, if this were a dining room, is the location of the kitchen which is on the other side of the settlement. Obviously we are not dealing with a dining room, and the room next door simply wasn't a "pantry". Qumran had at least two potter's kilns in operation and was a producer of ceramics. The wares found in the pantry were a store of fresh pottery which was destroyed by an earthquake. There was another, smaller store of pottery found near the round cistern as well.
(Patrich surveyed the flat areas around Qumran but found no sign of tell-tale traces of permanent tent dwelling; he also checked most of the caves for evidence of permanent living; but in both cases the lack of evidence spoke against the possibility. This led Hanan Eshel and Magen Broshi to propose that the elusive Essenes must have lived elsewhere in caves most of which are now destroyed, but they have as yet provided any solid evidence.)
Though I have mentioned only a few, there are in fact so many problems brought about by Magness's apology for the Essenes it prevents her, despite her vast knowledge of the archaeology, from giving a reasoned presentation of Qumran archaeology. She is unable to contemplate any of those theories she sets out to belittle. Yet if it weren't for the Donceels' erroneous analysis of Qumran as a villa (occasioned by their effort to understand the anomalies of the site which lay hidden in de Vaux's notes), we would not be in a better position to understand Qumran as an economic centre that it should be seen as today. Archaeologists are rethinking Qumran. Hirschfeld now has a book, "Qumran in Perspective", which reviews all the archaeology of Qumran and presents a rather different interpretation. Yitzak Margen and Yuval Peleg have found more evidence that we are dealing with a well-to-do settlement.
"The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls" is a reactionary book which doesn't help us understand Qumran. It is too busy saying why other theories are wrong, due to the author's adoption of her variety of the status quo theory. It does have a few good chapters at the end of the book which are less involved in her apology and more to do with archaeology. The book also has some good diagrams to help one understand the different zones of the site and their local developments. I recommend that this book be read with caution, as it is very hard to find a single fact unadorned with polemic.