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.
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.