Customer Reviews: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians: Essays and Translations
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on October 5, 2004
Eisenman takes a great interest in his work and the importance of getting the scrolls out to the public. Not sensational like the "Dead Sea Scrolls Deception" for it was the work on which the sensational book was written. As much as the Christian church would like to downplay these discoveries, there clearly existed a dichotomy in the New Testament between Paul and James. And only a mass interpolation by scholars could have covered the great difference between the Jewish-Christian and Gentile-Christian doctrinal issues. Good job Robert!
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on June 23, 2008
Included in this volume are Professor Eisenman's two ground-breaking works, "Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians and Qumran" and "James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher," which were first published in the mid-1980's, but were not previously widely available. These classics are a foundation piece of his research on the Dead Sea Scrolls and fascinating for the beginner and scholar alike. Most importantly, these works triggered the debate over the relationship of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Christian Origins, which ultimately led to the freeing of the Scrolls in the early 1990's a struggle in which Eisenman played a pivotal role. Also included are previously unpublished papers and essays written by Eisenman and presented at international conferences over the last decade. In addition, this volume provides new translations of three key Qumran documents, "The Habbakkuk Pesher," "The Damascus Document," and "The Community Rule," available previously in the sometimes inaccurate and often inconsistent renderings by consensus scholars, missing the electric brilliance of the writers of the Scrolls.
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on March 13, 2013
Dr. Robert Eisenman has brought the truth of the origins of Christianity to the world. We only now know of this true story because of the discovery of the the Dead Sea Scrolls and the equally amazing find of the Nag Hammadi Library and the phenomenally amazing Gospel of Judas. In Eisenman's book The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians: Essays and Translations, a collection of earlier papers he wrote on the scrolls discovery and interpretation, he dissects with the consummate skill of the professional that he is, the sectarian scrolls Pesherim (biblical commentarires) -- primarily the Damascus Document, the Community Rule, and the Habakkuk Pesher -- to reveal the real meaning of these time-capsule discoveries. The world is about to change course, forever, and it is about time. The deception that is the New Testament is exposed for what it truly is: a monumentally successful rewriting of first century history for the purpose of presenting an antisSemitic and orthodox slant on the real events of the time of "Christ". "Christ" is in quotes because the character we have before us in substantive portrayal is JAMES THE JUST, not Jesus Christ. James was the leader of the Jerusalem Assembly through the middle decades of Roman Palestine, and has been purposefully written out of his historical role by the New Testament gospel authors. The character of Jesus is absent from the scrolls themselves, bringing up a real question about his actual existence, if he was as important in his time as orthodox Christians would have us believe. One has to remember, the Scrolls were recently unearthed in pristine original compositional condition. The biblical books have had to endure centuries of tinkering and don't enjoy the same certainty of provenance as the Scrolls do. The Scrolls, bringing forth the wealth of information that they contain about the real Paul of Tarsus and what his movement was really up to leaves us with an important judgment to make. Is it really true that all this time the Christian religion which has shaped two millenia of history is only a fraud based on the wild imagination of a pretend expert on Jesus Christ, and pseudo-Pharisee -- Paul -- and a group of anonymous writers of Hellenized mystery-religion fantasy? This is exactly the unfortunate (for Christianity) picture painted by the Dead Sea Scrolls. In contrast to the scholarly elite's take on them, the Dead Sea Scrolls have ENORMOUS implications for the viability of the greatest religion the world has ever known. It is this writer's considered judgment, after reading everything Dr. Eisenman has written (to date, March, 2013) and having met him personally and spent a fascinating time talking with him about it, that what we have in this corpus of work is nothing less than the greatest revelation in the history of MANKIND. That means the greatest revelation in history FOREVER, not just until now.

What the Dead Seas Scrolls have revealed is that the New Testament is a cleverly conceived collection of writings created by some of the most skillful creators of fiction in the history of literature. As Eisenman puts it, in James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls "Once James has been rescued from the oblivion into which he was cast, abetted by one of the most successful rewrite enterprises ever accomplished -- the Book of Acts (and one of the most fantastic) -- it is necessary to deal with the new constellation of facts the reality of his being occasions. It will no longer be possible, through endless scholarly debate and other evasion syndromes, the obvious solution to the problem of the historical Jesus -- the the question of his actual physical existence aside -- the answer to which is simple, Who and whatever James was, so was Jesus." That is the concluding line of this, Eisenman's seminal work on James which immediately followed on this present work, and forever changed the landscape of biblical criticism. These two books, together with The New Testament Code: The Cup of the Lord, the Damascus Covenant, and the Blood of Christ form the 2,500 page trilogy which is a must-read for anyone wanting to know the real story of Jesus and James.

The book is in three parts, Part One is a revising of "Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians, and Qumran: a New Hypothesis of Qumran Origins" a monograph of Eisenman's that was first published in 1983 and then became mired in the controversy that swirled around the release of the scrolls from the Ecole' Biblique, the Vatican affiliated group of scholars that had been hoarding the scrolls and delaying their release since the 50's. In this paper, Eisenman presents the framework of his new thesis on Qumran origins, and 'sitz im leben', or place in the scheme of things. The main characters, The Righteous Teacher, and the Spouter of Lying, and the Wicked Priest are introduced and identified as James (tentatively), Paul and High Priest Ananus, who convicted James in an illegally conceived Sanhedrin (Jewish Court) trial, in absence of Roman authority (Albinus was yet enroute from Rome, replacing Festus who had just died). The "unremittingly xenophobic, nationalistic, and apocalyptic attitude on the part of the Qumran Community that the author [Eisenman] has been particularly identified with having brought to light" is presented. The Qumran concepts of loving God ('Hesed') and loving one's neighbor ('Zedek') are introduced as commandments of the Righteous Teacher. Eisenman then begins weaving his amazing linkage of these people to the New Testament followers of James and Peter, the "Poor" or "Ebionite" Keepers of the Covenant in the "Land of Damascus". A furthering of the linkage between Qumran and Pauline in "James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher", a second treatise presented three years later than "MZCQ". Eisenman further develops the correct interpretation of the sectarian scrolls from the internal data, and shows their proper setting in contrast to the scholarly accepted position of them as Maccabean-era by compromised and inconclusive carbon dating and paleographic analysis. In Part Two the working method of the New testament gospel authors in reversing and inverting the true teachings of the Jamesian Jerusalem and Qumran Community leaders is presented for the first time to the wider public. A plethora of details makes a solid case for the premise of the work that the teaching of James is marginalized in biblical parallel inversions of Pauline faith-only reformulations of works-salvation of the Jamesians.

Part Three is a new translation of the three important works of the Qumran sectarian works, the Damascus Document, the Community Rule and the Habakkuk Pesher. The penetrating insight Eisenman is famous for is in full display in these important new translation versions, and justify presenting him as the premier world authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, in opposition to some other researchers, like Dr. Geza Vermes, who don't quite get some of the crucial passages right (as seen in footnotes to the text). Copiously footnoted and documented, this is the definitive work to date on these all-important Jamesian compositions, and form the bedrock of our new understanding of the community of persecuted "zealot" misfits who left Jerusalem under duress in the tumultuous years leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple. James and Paul are forever linked now in a battle of titans for the imagination of a world that must now choose between them for the final reckoning of what really was the history of the "Christ" story: an orthodox masterpiece of revisionist fantasy built upon mystery-religion accommodation to the powers-that-be -- or a separationist movement of deeply spiritual gnostics, who left the world a time-machine corpus of the utmost value to ponder over in an archaeological stroke of stupendous good fortune and serendipity.

When combined with a study of the Nag Hammadi corpus and the Gospel of Judas (conducted by the author of this review and published elsewhere), a picture of the full scope of the deception of the New Testament becomes irresistible. The scholarly community must be put on notice that we now have the real champion of the truth in Dr. Robert Eisenman and we want to be told no more lies or partial truths about the New Testament message. The "man" in the "sacrifice of the man that bears me" in the Gospel of Judas climax is JAMES, overwritten as "Judas", and "the Betrayal of Jesus" scenario in the gospel portrait of Jesus and Judas is pure fiction, a cover for the succession of Jesus by James as full Master and initiating SAVIOR as revealed from findings in all the available sources of the time and an analysis of modern Sant Mat ("Teachings of the Saints"). The "bread" in the Betrayal scene is given to JAMES -- not 'Judas' -- in the Gospel According to the Hebrews, the 'kiss' of spiritual transfer is given Jesus by JAMES -- not 'Judas' -- in the First and Second Apocalypses of James in the gnostic corpus from Nag Hammadi, and it is JAMES who "greatly supplants" Jesus -- not 'Judas' attacking Jesus -- in the Psalm 41:9 scripture reference (idiomatic Douay Rheims Bible translation) in John 13:18, mistranslated to hide the real subject of the episode, which is the selection of the replacement for Jesus which should naturally be called for at this point in the gospel story, and is missing. This is detailed elsewhere in the gospels in Eisenman's other works as the overwritten 'election' of 'Matthias' in Acts 1. Details for all this can be found in Eisenman's and this author's published works. The time is NOW for the full truth to be told about the living Masters of Sant Mat, of whom James was one. Thanks be to Dr. Eisenman for opening the door which we only have now to walk through to a full and glorious understanding of the true teachings of God.

-- Robert Wahler
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on August 29, 2010
An underground classic -- and, at least indirectly, the only "Historical Jesus" book you may ever really need. A series of essays that are definitely academic, and perhaps rather abstruse for the layman; and any reader, lay or not, will have to go through Eisenman's muscle-bound prose line by line, with pencil in hand. In "James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher" he shows, using multiple sources, by the process of elimination, that James, "the brother of Jesus," was ALMOST certainly the "Teacher of Righteousness" in the DSS -- which of course means that they're the first "Christian" scriptures, and contain nothing about miracles, parables, etc. As might have been expected, the "consensus scholars" have tried to pick holes in his argument, and without much success, in this layman's opinion, among other reasons because they apparently can't recognize that they're implicitly taking the side of Paul in the James-Paul dispute -- and Eisenman demonstrates, in the essay "Paul as Herodian," was ABSOLUTELY certainly a Pharisee in the nastiest sense, probably a Roman spy, and the PERFECT candidate for "The Spouter of Lies."
After reading this essay, by the way, I was moved to re-read the Pauline material, and was stunned to note such details as the bizarre end to Romans, the near-paranoid tantrum in the second half of Galatians, and the apparently-intentional Monty Python-esque multilayered humor hidden in plain sight in the "Trial of Paul" scene in Acts -- one can envision John Cleese, as Herod, strutting around and pontificating, while Eric Idle, at his oily best ("Nudge, nudge! Say no more!") exlaims that he does not lie as he preaches the risen Christ, and Terry Jones and Michael Palin, as "The Jews," sharpen their sicarii while making grotesque faces.
They don't tell you about this in church.
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on August 4, 2007
Book in excellent condition.
Eisenman and Allegro, while not in full agreement, are obviously on the right track. Christianity is known to have begun in Israel by Jews. It is well known by those scholars who are not biased that early Christianity was boxed in by Jews and Rome. They chose Rome. And so anything resembling what Jesus (or what ever the title represents) preached died completely around 325 CE when Rome adopted it. I know Eisenman personally. His analysis is without doubt largely correct.
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on May 8, 2012
This is a collection of essays and as such they are old covering the 1983-1994 period with nine articles practically in chronological publishing order. This is the 2006 new edition of the 1996 first edition with apparently only one new thing, the new translation of The Habakkuk Pesher with no specification of the date and two old translations of excerpts of The Damascus Document and the Community Rule. This new edition gives us older articles that enable us to better assess Eisenman's more recent books like "James, the Brother of Jesus" and "The New testament Code."

The method is to be commended. First in his rejection of retrospective imposition which is a real plague in historical linguistics that does not descend time from older forms analyzed in themselves to the newer forms whose innovation is to be explained, but that ascends the time line imposing on the past forms the values the modern forms derived from the older ones have today. Eisenman works with the texts of the documents and meets that problem though he does not identify it linguistically.

In fact Eisenman encounters the same problematic in Qumran studies. Qumran documents are all analyzed via the later reconstruction, in this case the Pauline Christian reconstruction, of events and debates that took place within and around the Jewish religion and community essentially in the first century CE. The Pauline reconstruction negates that debate that shows Paul under a very negative angle within the Jewish community he is supposed to be a member of. Modern gospels endorse Paul's non-Jewish development of Christianity without clarifying what Paul rejected by doing that. The victor writes history and we have to deconstruct this retrospective imposition to understand the documents and the events behind the documents.

Eisenman does a marvellous job in that direction. Here is a summary of his method.

"If a hypothesis not only helps to explain the data, but [...] in addition is able to elicit new information from that data that was not apparent or could not have been suspected previously without it, it is very strong proof of its validity or, at least, its usefulness. This is induction, through which scientific proofs are built up by a process of data accumulation - by a process of gradually approaching certainty. Certainty is rarely arrived at in a single instant." (p. 335)

In this method there are essential elements but they might be confusedly expressed. That's a remark on Eisenman's writing or exposing method. We get lost quite often in strings of arguments that are purely syncretic in presentation as if the line of arguments just set one after the other was a way to establish the validity of the argument itself. This is particularly true with linguistic arguments that even shift from ancient Hebrew to ancient Greek and to modern English as if there was a perfect continuity or unity from a consonantal language to an old Indo-European heavily declined language and to a modern indo-European creole language practically free of declensions and conjugations.

His accumulation of date is based on the fact that he takes absolutely all documents, testimonies and other factual events or artefacts in consideration treating all of them as equal. He rejects nothing and he is so right since on that subject there are a lot more missing elements than surviving elements. So why should we reject some of these surviving elements?

The second step in his accumulation is to consider the language, the words, the original language and the original words as well as the Greek versions and their later Greek words. He implements here the method that considers the New Testament Gospels and even some Old testament books as containing parallel verses; one older set of verses originally in some Semitic language and a second set, parallel in meaning but added directly in Greek. In the original language he pins out the words that build networks of references, metaphors or simple connections. He joins - an essential word in that period and in this work - all the references to Biblical books and verses to the words and verses of the Qumran documents and all apocryphal documents. This builds rich networks of metaphors and meanings that he tries to confront with all testimonies and historical reports from the same or later periods in order to come up with a hypothesis about the sitz im leben of the events he sees behind the Qumran documents and community.

That's where intuition comes into the picture. If one network of words connects the Old Testament, New Testament and Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls, and if this falls in line with all historical testimonies from Josephus , the Talmud and many other sources, then the hypothesis is fairly probable. You can notice he speaks of the usefulness of his hypothesis. I prefer speaking of the probability of it because it has to remain all the time open, and at times Eisenman is slightly too categorical about the "implied truth" of his hypothesis.

This inductive method is absolutely essential in all sciences and since we are dealing with literary, historical and other texts, and the words of these documents, it is inescapably central since we have to deal with linguistics which is the only science that can really works on words and sentences. And that is where Eisenman's method suffers because he does not qualify the linguistic phenomena he is using in various extremely different languages as for their phylogeny, syntax, semantics, lexicon, etc.

For example when he sees the continuity between the Hebrew root ba-la'a (note the mistake that he does not do in other pages of the book: the root is the consonantal cluster B-L with no vowels) and the Greek word ballô, he does not see that the network of words constructed in Hebrew on the basis of the root B-L is entirely contained in the root itself and evoked by any particular discursive realisation of that root, whereas the Greek word, and he gives examples, can vary with the use of particular prefixes, for example, plus conjugations (if verbal) or declensions (if nominal), and yet each discursive realization of this derivation does not carry the others in reference, not even in metaphorical reference and the word thus produced is the association of the meaning of the initial word and the meaning of the prefix and other pre-, suf- and/or in-fixes eventually. He does not see that Hebrew because of this linguistic characteristic is perfect for messianic apocalyptic constructions since one root contains a whole and rich cluster of meanings referring to the "past" recollection and announcing the "future" prediction. On the other hand Greek is a perfect language for description, story telling and speculative reasoning (philosophy). That does not mean there cannot be any messianic apocalyptic stories in Greek, that John's Apocalypse cannot be translated into Greek: it means the effect of Hebrew is not and cannot be the same as the effect of Greek. More about that in other places and articles.

Without going into more details about this methodological problem, and without giving you all the details of the deciphering hypotheses given by Eisenman, let me provide a few elements we could consider as valid and debatable approaches.

1- Qumran documents are a direct testimony of the debate within the Jewish community about the new Christian approach in the first century CE.

2- The Righteous Teacher is James, the elder brother of Jesus.

3- He was illegally sentenced to death for blasphemy by the Sanhedrin sitting in illegal session outside its normal seat in the Temple from which it had been removed at the time. The direct associates of James were in the same batch of people dispatched to be stoned to death.

4- The Jewish community was divided in several segments:
a- The Herodians who were systematically breaking the Jewish law and particularly the three nets of Belial: fornication, riches and pollution of the Temple.
b- The priests, among them the Wicked Priest, Ananus, who illegally sentenced James and his supporters with an illegal meeting of the Sanhedrin Ananus' own home. These were the direct allies of the Herodians, constituting with them the essential political and religious establishment of the time in Jerusalem.
c- The Pharisees, Jews who looked for simple and easy ways to enjoy peace and life within the frame of the Roman Empire. Paul is in that last group of the establishment, though he seems to play a role that is slightly more important by being a Roman citizen and a close associate of some Roman officials, including Emperor Nero, and of some Herodians higher-ups.
d- Those who are against this drift towards integration into the Roman empire and under Roman rule, in the name of the Covenant, God's law, circumcision in the flesh and in the heart, the rejection of the three nets of Belial. These are James, his associates and the Qumran community.
e- Beyond the Jews, but these new ones are the stake of Pauline Christianity, we have the gentiles who are integrated in the Roman Empire entirely and who are integrated in the new Christian organization by Paul, against the will of James. Paul is an essential figure in that evolution and as such is the Liar, the Comedian and many other names in the Qumran documents that show what he appears to be is nothing but a treason and lie of what God's law is and has to be. Circumcision is an essential piece of that debate and conflict.
f- And around all those you have the Kittim, that is to say the Romans and their legions.

This complex set of hypotheses, vastly supported by data, can and has to be of course discussed but cannot be either negated or neglected. It is an essential approach.

I won't give you more of this tremendously rich approach of how Pauline Christianity emerged from and against James' rather Zealot Jewish Christian vision essentially reviving the resurrection, messianic and second coming prophecy contained in the Star Prophecy and the rain metaphor of these documents that directly echo Old Testament and apocryphal apocalypses and other messianic visions. Note too John's Book of Revelation is the direct descendant of this debate; conflict and traumatic drama (imagine Jesus' own brother betrayed by a self-appointed new-coming apostle of gentiles, along with his followers in the worst possible death sentence: stoning for blasphemy). This Book of Revelation is both the perfect continuation of this messianic tradition, hence of James, and the Christianization of it. It directly echoes Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, and yet it is a perfect transfiguration of Jesus into the Messiah and the Apocalypse into his Second Coming predicted as imminent, as permanently imminent. Does that mean it will never come? No answer at the time but the destruction of the Temple in 70 and of Jerusalem fifty years later seemed to be that apocalypse, and yet the world went on living.

To conclude we have to say that Eisenman would have been inspired to use a phylogenic linguistic approach that would have opened great vistas: as soon as the Messianic vision shifted from Semitic Hebrew to Indo-European Greek, later Latin, it shifted from apocalyptic inspiration to purely speculative description, hence some kind of mythological tale or political discourse. More about that in Créteil, France on June 14-15, 2012.

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on May 24, 2010
Christianity is a messiah-mediated religion that has deep roots in Essenian thought (even the Church recognizes the spiritual affiliation). Being exported from its original cocoon corrupted the teachings of Jesus. In short this is what Eisenman is telling us.
The dispute between Pauline Messianism and James' Messianism was an important event in pre-Church history and Eisenman rightfully pin points the separation, although the quarrel between them not only relied on the Law issue but also on a Messiah controversy.
That Greco-Romans did not remain within the original confines of Judaism is of no surprise because the background was alien to them. Furthermore, religious thought initially evolves within any nascent community. The Dead Sea Scroll community was of no exception and they also had internal struggles. Essenism also split into several branches. Judaism also evolved. The Books of Moses were re-written during the Babylonian exile by Aaronid priests taking over lost Temple command. Much later main stream Judaism (as opposed to Essenian splinter groups) was also divided by strong and opposing currents until the first century CE Pharisees, boosted by the Temple destruction, had the upper hand that developped into modern Judaism.
Western Messianism in Rome strengthened it's holding through mixing ideals belonging to the Antiochus Gospel groups with the later Gnostic creed that brought the nascent Church closer to the Hellenistic supernatural.
If evolution of rules and laws during the initial centuries of maturation were to supress any freshly inspired religion, then all would fail. Permanence of thought belongs only to propaganda vehicled by religious authorities emanating from whatever the established strain may be.
So why be surprised or indignated that Christianity should have developped its own ways from a Judean matrix?
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on March 12, 2009
From this book you learn things that you would never hear sitting in a
church pew. It verifies the fact that Christianity is not the true
worship and that the earlist believers after Messiah's resurrection
were zealous for keeping the Commandments. It also seems apparent that
the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees should never been excluded
from the Scriptures.
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on November 9, 2015
I thought this was a great book, much easier to read than The New Testament Code but with much of the same information.
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on February 8, 2013
Eisenman holds the keys to the facts about early (first century) Christians and their battle for survival. All of his published works on the subject are important reading for any one that cares about the truth.
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