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The Scepter and the Star (Anchor Bible Reference) Hardcover – March 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Series: Anchor Bible Reference
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Bible; 1st edition (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385474571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385474573
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this fascinating survey, Collins traces the history and development of the idea of messiah from its earliest appearances in the Hebrew Bible to its culmination in the Judaism and Christianity of the first century c.e. Collins examines biblical and extrabiblical texts to explore the great variety of mantles, from eschatological prophet to Son of Man to Son of God, that messianic figures have worn. In his readings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Collins discovers, contrary to traditional readings, that the messiah of that community is identified more with a teacher of righteousness than with an apocalyptic prophet who will lead the forces of light in the final battle against the forces of darkness. In addition, the Judaic belief in both a priestly messiah and a kingly (Davidic) messiah in the first century c.e. militates, Collins believes, against any easy identification of Jesus solely as Davidic. Finally, the author argues that careful study of the Scrolls may yet yield the common ground out of which the messianic ideas of Judaism and Christianity developed. Marked by judicious and accessible readings of primary texts, Collins's work is a significant contribution to Doubleday's outstanding biblical reference series.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

With the flurry of publications about the Dead Sea Scrolls over the past few years, much has been made of the significance of the scrolls for the study of Judaism and early Christianity. Collins's book is one of the first to examine a major theological subject in light of the newly released Qumran materials. Drawing on the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), the apocrypha, the pseudepigrapha, and especially the Dead Sea Scrolls, Collins explores messianic expectations in Judaism during the century prior to the Christian era. He identifies four messianic paradigms-king, prophet, priest, and heavenly messiah or Son of Man-rather than a single, all-encompassing concept. In the final chapter, Collins draws attention to the ways Jesus was seen to fit these messianic paradigms as well as the ways he would seem to deviate from or further develop them. Recommended for all academic religious studies collections, as well as larger public libraries.
Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By benjamin on December 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Scepter and the Star by John Joseph Collins is an in-depth study of the complex problem of messianism and the varied messianic expectation(s) and speculation(s) during the time of Second Temple Judaism. The subtitle of the book, "The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature" is important because Collins does not restrict his study to the Dead Sea Scrolls. He goes through the Pseudepigrapha (a large, open-ended collection of biblically-related and biblically-dependant literature that is not a part of the Bible), the Apocrypha, the Hebrew Bible/Tanak/Old Testament and the messianic ideas contained within those works. Collins also deals with Jesus and the New Testament in this work, although it is on the side that these discussions take place.
Collins' knowledge of the Hebrew Bible is extensive on both theological and historical levels. His knowledge is also useful because in the Hebrew Bible are the roots of the problems with messianic interpretation - the scriptures themselves. Once Collins places particular scriptures in their historical context, he then goes on to show their influence(s) and interpretation(s) in various post- and extra-biblical works of literature. We find a pre-existent, heavenly messiah, a priestly messiah, a kingly messiah, and a militant messiah in the works Collins analyzes. At least one messiah was expected and possibly and two, depending on who wrote the work. Collins also deals with the history of the word "messiah" and its various uses in the Hebrew Bible.
In reading the book, the reader will gain some insights as to how and why the writers of the New Testament understood Jesus the way that they did, but the goal of the book is not to connect these works to Jesus.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Susan L Alfson on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Scepter and the Star is an excellent and indepth study of the controversy between Judaism and Christianity. In this book we find substantial support for the reasons that many Jews did not accept Jesus as their Messiah. The Jews were looking for two Messiahs- not one. There is scriptural support, which is well documented by John Collins that points to two Messiah figures of the Apocalypse. Collins also references Dead Sea Scroll material that specifically points out two figures- a Davidic and a Priestly Messiah . This book explains how two diverse religions came and stayed- Judaism and Christianity- over these differences. It shows how the Bible was more than a religious book, but a history book as well. This is an excellent, well written book that should get people to look again at the Bible and perhaps read it with insight instead of letting others TELL you what it says!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Valasek on June 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a well researched, scholarly book that examines the messianic movements of the second temple period. It basically examines the various phrases (e.g. son of man) associated with the messiah(s) that were expected throughout this period. It certainly was written from a research standpoint to be used for research and not intented as a casual reading.

This book gives a fair review of the various expectations such as a warrior type messiah, a suffering servant, as well as some lesser known movements such as the two messiah movement and even the Christianized returning messiah dogma.

For the most part, the author is not identifying the messiah as any particular individual, but is trying to provide a broad scope look at the many movements and possible reasons as to how they developed and evolved from one type to another.

Drawing heavily upon the Dead Sea Scrolls, the author examines the various Bible texts that imply messianism and attempts to place these messiahs in their proper context. I believe that any serious student of this period would do well to have a copy of this book handy as it should prove to be a well used and well cited text as the research and debate about messianism thrives and grows.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tells us who the Community at Qumran might have thought the Son of Man (priestly and kingly) might have been. Also talks through Pseudepigrapha and theories of who might have might have been Son of Man (men?).
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