The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Vintage)

“Illuminating . . . absolutely fascinating.” —The New York Times

“First-rate. . . . An important addition to the Dead Sea Scrolls literature. . . .  Shanks’ compelling narrative of their discovery and contents . . . truly does justice to the material.”  —Archaeology

Fifty years ago, in a cave near Qumran on the Dead Sea, a Bedouin shepherd made a remarkable discovery–a cache of scrolls, in Hebrew and Aramaic, dating roughly from the time of Jesus. Here, in hundreds of literary fragments, was a window into an unknown world–the world where Christianity and modern Judaism were born.

Everyone has heard about the scrolls, but what, exactly, are their contents? Who wrote them? What do they reveal? Do they undermine the authority of the Hebrew Bible? Do they shed new light on Jesus, his sayings and his sacraments? Until recently, only a handful of experts could answer these questions, for only they had access to the scrolls. Now, thanks to the liberating efforts of scholars such as Hershel Shanks, the scrolls are the property of us all, their mystery at long last yielding to meaning. Here, in arresting detail, is the most complete assessment of the scrolls to date. It is a history of their discovery and dissemination, a summary of their scholarly interpretation, and a thoughtful meditation on their ultimate significance. Above all, it is an act of generosity–a great scholar’s gift to the common understanding of the most important ancient texts found in modern times.
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