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The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 30, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0140449525 ISBN-10: 0140449523 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 648 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449525
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's been 50 years since a Bedouin youth named Muhammed edh-Dhub went looking for a stray sheep and instead found the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the intervening decades, the scrolls have been enveloped in a storm of controversy and bitter conflict: the scholars entrusted with translating and editing the texts sat on many of them instead, creating suspicions that escalated to conspiracy theories about supposed cover-ups of sensitive, even damaging material. Geza Vermes, a former professor of Jewish studies at Oxford and a noted authority on the scrolls, marks the 50th anniversary of Muhammed edh-Dhub's find with his book The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English; the title, however, is misleading, for the collection of documents is by no means complete.

Vermes has left out the copies of Hebrew scriptures that are available elsewhere, instead focusing on the sectarian writings of the Essene community at Qumran and the intertestemental texts, and these are indeed complete translations. Vermes has also included an overview of five decades of research on the scrolls and a thumbnail sketch of the Qumran community's history and religion. For anyone interested in biblical history, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English is a worthwhile read. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This one-volume translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls joins those of Florentino Garcia Martinez (The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, Eerdman's, 1996) and Michael Wise and others (The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, LJ 12/96) and is the latest edition of The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, first published in 1962. In a 90-page introduction, Vermes (emeritus, Jewish studies, Wolfson Coll., Oxford) briefly summarizes the 50-year history of scrolls research. He presents an overview of the sectarian community associated with the scrolls (whom he identifies as the Essenes), its history, and its beliefs. Though dubbed "complete" (the preface explains that "meaningless scraps or badly damaged manuscript sections are not inflicted on the reader"), Vermes's translation is generally the most selective of the three. This sometimes saves the reader from the possible frustration of line upon line of brackets and ellipses, but it gives a limited idea of the extent of the textual material available. However, the translation is good and has stood as the standard for many years. As with Bibles, libraries should have more than one version of the Dead Sea Scrolls.?Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book was originally published in 1965 and was last updated in 1997.
Earl Whitney
Very good, well written book; somewhat difficult for me to understand at first, but once into the read, fascinating material.
chuck291
Geza Vermes' book, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, is a worthy capstone to a long and distinguished scroll career.
FrKurt Messick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

347 of 355 people found the following review helpful By Earl Whitney on February 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Geza Vermes provides a concise introduction to the topic of the Dead Sea Scrolls and provides English translations of many of the scrolls and fragments found in the 11 caves of Qumran. This book was originally published in 1965 and was last updated in 1997. Much has happened in those 32 years and this book contains updates on the key items.
In the first 96 pages of the book, Vermes provides an insight into what the Scrolls are, who the authors were, a history of the community that wrote the scrolls, and the religious ideas of the community. 500 pages of translations and brief discussions of each scroll and fragment follow. The discussions are particularly helpful as introductions to the themes and background related to each scroll. About 40 pages at the end of the book present a catalogue of the scrolls, an index of the texts, and a bibliography. The indexes in the book provide references by topic and by the classification number of the text or fragment (e.g. 4Q525 is text number 525 from Qumran Cave 4).
Among the many key manuscripts translated in this book are the Community Rule, the Damascus Document, the Messianic Rule, the War Scroll, the Thanksgiving Hymns, the Apocryphal Psalms, the calendrical documents, the Blessings and Benedictions, the Peshers (commentaries) on numerous books of the Old Testament, Biblical Apocryphal Works, and the Copper Scroll (the Copper Scroll is a description of the locations of hidden treasures).
The book is quite complete, but new discoveries and revisions to existing hypotheses will always make future revisions a necessity. I have used this book to teach a 4-week mini-course on the Dead Sea Scrolls at my Church with much success. I highly recommend this book. The topic is fascinating and this book is a must for anyone serious about learning what is in the Dead Sea Scrolls and what life was like from 150 B.C to 70 A.D.
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190 of 194 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Geza Vermes' book, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, is a worthy capstone to a long and distinguished scroll career. Vermes entire career, from his student days to this present work, has been concentrated largely on the Dead Sea Scrolls and related topics. His doctorate in 1953 was completed with a dissertation on the historical framework of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is difficult to find any scholar with as complete a knowledge of the scrolls as has Vermes; it is impossible to find one who knows them better.
This book was released in 1997, 50 years from the time the first Arab shepherd climbed into a cave in search of a wandering animal and instead fell upon the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Following the 'revolution' of 1991 (to use Vermes words), everyone interested could have unfettered access to the Scrolls, and yet, as inaccessible as they had been previously due to physical restriction, they remained just as inaccessible due to the problem of language and translation.
'In addition to the English rendering of the Hebrew and Aramaic texts found in the eleven Qumran caves, two inscribed potsherds (ostraca) retrieved from the Qumran site and two Qumran-type documents discovered in the fortress of Masada, and brief introductory notes to each text, this volume also provides an up-to-date general introduction, outlining the history of fifty years of Scroll research and sketching the organisation, history and religious message of the Qumran Community.'
This is the latest volume of a series: when Vermes first published an edition in 1962 (then 15 years after the discovery of the first scrolls), the book had 262 pages; the current edition has 648.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Maier on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Vermes has again, in this updated version of the DSS in English, held fast to the clear-eyed scholarship that has been the hallmark of his work. Of course, the individual reader must ultimately decide for himself how objective Vermes is in his presentation. For example, I view with skepticism Vermes's assertion that the original language of 1 Enoch is, without doubt, Aramaic. Frankly, there is compelling evidence that the original story or stories that became Enoch were originally written in Ethiopic, or were tales that traveled from East to West via the Phoenicians. Other plausible theories abound.
Nonetheless, there are many gems here, and, in my opinion, this book contains one the most honest and pure translations of 1 Enoch (along with the fragments from the Book of Giants), complementing the tremendous service done to Enoch by James Charlesworth in "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments (Old Testament Pseudepigraphia, Vol 1)."
When I was doing postgraduate work in theology and biblical history, I always wished for a book like this (i.e., Vermes' DSS as updated in 1997). This work is, in my opinion, ideal for those who wish to study alone, and even for use in organized church study groups. There's plenty of "light" here, and Vermes indicates and suggests where the reader might look without insisting.
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118 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Marionette on December 9, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is no better translation available to English language readers than this volume by Vermes. The objections registered by some ill-informed conspiracy-theorists concerning Vermes are themselves based on no real evidence. Vermes has an opinion, a very well-informed scholarly opinion, formed from years of study--honest study. He is not a flaming seeker of fortune and fame as are many people who try to make much more out of what is in the DSS than anyone can possible know. As one trained as a scholar in this area of study, I offer two observations: First, my own word of caution: Beware of DSS conspiracy theories and wild claims made from esoteric so-called readings of the texts. Second, my advice: Read the Scrolls in this fine translation for yourself and ask whether Vermes's ideas are reasonable or whether the wild allegorical re-readings offered by certain flamboyant interpreters have any real merit.
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