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Dead Sea Scrolls Deception Paperback – April 12, 1993

3.8 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For the lay reader, this crystalline, well-documented work offers substantive evidence that for more than 40 years a small coterie of Catholic scholars established a stranglehold on access to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in the Qumran caves east of Jerusalem in 1947. Baigent and Leigh ( Holy Blood, Holy Grail ) claim that the elite group had direct links to official Vatican propaganda offices, that at least two among them were outspoken anti-Semites, and that they suppressed material that connects early Christianity to the Qumran community as well as to the zealous defenders of the fortress of Masada. Drawing on the findings of independent Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Robert Eisenman of California State University, the authors advance startling theories that should change the way we view ancient Judaism and nascent Christianity. They argue that the Essenes, Zealots and Nazorenes or early Christians in first-century Palestine weren't different Jewish sects but were, rather, various sobriquets for members of a broad messianic nationalistic movement dedicated to upholding the Law of Moses and determined to violently overthrow the Roman occupiers. The authors also amass evidence that the Habakkuk Commentary and other Dead Sea Scrolls refer to the same events as those recounted in Acts, in Josephus and in the works of early Christian historians; that Paul was sent forth by the hierarchy in Jerusalem for the express purpose of recruiting an army, and by preaching a new religion, he was depoliticizing and emasculating the militant movement; and that Paul might have been a Roman agent or informer. Baigent and Leigh demonstrate the perfidies of clandestine, cliquish scholarship that isn't accountable to the public and make urgent the forthwith publication and translation of all Scrolls material. Photos. BOMC and QPB selections.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This emotional account of the events surrounding the discovery and translation of the scrolls attempts to uncover the theological and political efforts by individuals, governments, and religious institutions to keep controversial documents unpublished, ostensibly to preserve orthodox intepretations. The English authors, Baigent and Leigh, base their study on the work of Robert Eisenmen and other religious scholars who maintain that a conspiracy of consensus led to stagnant reinterpretation of old doctrine, rather than true research which would contest preconceived notions with newly discovered evidence. New theories by Eisenmen and others, which challenge the roots of Christianity as well as New Testament doctrine and history, are discussed. Standard works such as John M. Allegro's The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Christian Myth ( LJ 6/1/84), Roland De Vaux's Discoveries in the Judean Desert (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1977), and Geza Vermes's The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Viking, 1988. rev. ed.), and many others are preferable to this acrid introductory "expose."-- Paula I. Nielson, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 12, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671797972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671797973
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book, written in the early 1990s, had much more punch when it was first written. The Dead Sea Scrolls were still essentially under lock-and-key, accessible as a whole only to a few selected scholars who were selected by unclear and seemingly biased methods - that bias often being misconstrued as the dictates of the Roman Catholic Church. History has proven something rather different going on, but reading this book is still a good study of what can happen in even the most banal and esoteric of endeavours when secrecy and restricted access to information is the norm.
The Dead Sea Scrolls is a name given to a general collection of scrolls found in the area of Qumran, in the desert near the Dead Sea in the West Bank of the Jordan River. The first scrolls from this region were found in 1947/48. Many more scrolls have been found since then (and there may be some still missing, or hidden, by various regional authorities and antiquities dealers and collectors), including some in areas as far away as the British Museum (manuscripts collected from a Cairo genizah 50 years earlier were later found to match the scrolls).
Part of the politics of around the scrolls, which always featured into their saga, was that, while they were primary early Jewish texts (the Hebrew Bible, additional psalms, community writings of early sects of Judaism, etc.), the scrolls were found in what was then Arab territory by Arab traders and bedouins. The fragile state of Israeli/Palestinian/Jordanian politics always factored into the scrolls' fate; the scrolls came under control first of the Orthodox (Christian) leaders in East Jerusalem (then in Arab control), then later as scholars were sought under general Western academic supervision.
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Format: Paperback
The Dead Sea Scrolls deception is a typical Baigent & Leigh product: a fascinating intrigue-laced narrative that does not hold up to critical examination. Like their more famous Holy Blood, Holy Grail, its ultimate intent is to challenge the origins of Christianity and the legitimacy of the Catholic Church. While a worthwhile and noble task in and of itself, this is best accomplished thorough rationalistic scholarship, such as the one conducted by the members of the Jesus Seminar and scholars like Burton Mack, Robert Price, G.A Wells and Earl Doherty. But such works do not usually make for a thrilling read unless one has some background and a kin interest in the subject; they do not form good basis for best-selling novels of all time; and they do not lead to box-office busting Hollywood pictures. But using thinly-woven questionable arguments in the way Baigent always does ultimately defeat the purpose and ill serve the rationalist cause, while providing fundamentalists with a much-needed amo.

The book can be divided in two major parts: in the first, the authors provide a gripping tale of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at a site near Qumran and tell of the scandalous conduct of the so-called International Team ander the leadership of Father Roland De Vaux in the decades that followed. From this they conclude that the International Team operating in cahoots with the Catholic Church intentionally delayed, diluted and suppressed the research on the scrolls. This was because the information that was discovered in the "sectarian" portions of the collection was explosively embarassing to Christianity.

So far so good. The international team did in fact come under intense academic criticism more than once. They did delay the publication of the scrolls.
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Format: Paperback
The truth in this book is this: the Catholic Church really did try to keep these documents from being published. And, as far as that goes, the authors do have some interesting and informative things to say. It's better written than many of the more "scholarly" histories of the scrolls. It definitely will hold your attention and teach you a few things you didn't know before.
The problem, however---if you want to call it that---is that most of the rest of the book is a somewhat tangential "who murdered J.F.K." kind of exposition. Not than I'm necessarily opposed to that kind of thing. I mean, I certainly don't think Oswald wasn't part of some larger scheme of events. Nor do I think all paranoia is a bad thing. But it is, after all...paranoia. And the authors here have taken it to the hilt. Still, with that understanding, this book is worth taking a look at. Why? Because it asks a number of questions about the origins of Chritianity which very much need to be asked. The answers they provide, while most likely *not* all that accurate, are nevertheless representative of a legitimate trend in contemporary New Testament scholarship. Like J.F.K., it's also representative of the kinds of ideas people will develop when large political/religious organizations withhold the truth from the public at large.
When this book was published, Robert Eisenman's "James, The Brother Of Jesus" was not yet published. So, I had the darndest time tracking down anything he had written. Fortunately, I was working on a university campus at the time, so I finally was able to locate a couple of manuscripts in one of the graduate school libraries. It's hard to say what I think about Eisenman. I think his conclusions are probably wrong.
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