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Qumran In Context: Reassessing The Archaeological Evidence Hardcover – November 30, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1565636125 ISBN-10: 1565636120 Edition: First Printing
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About the Author

Yizhar Hirschfeld is a professor of classical archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology. He has conducted excavations in several major sites in Israel, including Tiberias, En Gedi, Hammat Gader, and Ramat Hanadiv.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Hendrickson Pub; First Printing edition (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565636120
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565636125
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,025,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this well-written study Hirschfeld challenges the widely-accepted view that the buildings located at Qumran were occupied by Essenes and that the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the caves nearby were used and ultimately hidden there by members of that sect. After a careful analysis of the architectural remains and the artifacts found in association with them, Hirschfeld concludes that the earliest stage of construction may have been during the Hasmonean period (130-37 BCE), perhaps incorporating Iron Age structures about which little can be known. The buildings are understood to be a small fort and associated road station intended to control the important road leading from Jerusalem to the southeastern regions of the kingdom. In the Herodian period (37 BCE-68 CE) the earlier buildings became the core of a large manor house occupied by inhabitants engaged in extensive agricultural production. The remains at nearby ‛Ein Feshkha are seen as a part of this elaborate estate. The estate was destroyed in the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 CE) and a small Roman fortress, perhaps later used by rebels in the Bar Kochba rebellion, was erected at this site. After 135 CE Qumran seems to have been abandoned. In keeping with this assessment of the evidence, Hirschfeld suggests that the Dead Sea Scrolls were not Essene documents but rather part of an extensive library, maintained by the Sadducean community in Jerusalem and preserved by hiding the scrolls, on the eve of the First Jewish Revolt, in caves located near the manor house at Qumran. This book is well-written, well-documented and superbly illustrated with more than 135 maps, drawings and photographs. Anyone seriously interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls or in Jewish/Roman history in the Hellenistic and Roman periods should read this book.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Goranson on February 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the cover of the book we see two wooden combs; they are also inside the book in a full-color full-page plate (Figure 102), presented as if they had been found in the ruins of Qumran. In fact, they were not. These two combs were found far away in a cave in Wadi Murabba'at and long published in P. Benoit, J.T. Milik, and R. de Vaux (eds.). Les grottes de Murabba'at (DJD 2; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), part 2, Planches, pl. XIV.8 and XIV.9.

The book, early on, declares it wishes to remove the "burden" of religion from Qumran, and seeks to move religious Essenes out. But in the end it--contradicting itself--seeks to move religious Sadducees in.

But second temple period Sadducees were a small aristocratic conservative group, that Josephus tells us persuaded "few," a group preferring Torah-only, not books with named angels, predestination, resurrection, apocalyptic, messianism--the very things found at Qumran. Sadducees, though they may have agreed with Essenes on this or that legal question, did not own or approve of such books. Retrojecting later, broader and looser definitions of Sadducees helps little.

For further information about the factual errors in this book, see the online paper [if interested, google the title] "Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene."
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