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The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls & Related Literature) Hardcover – August, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Biblical Archaeology SocietyPublication Award for Best Popular Book on Archaeology (2003)
Choice MagazineOutstanding Academic Book (2003)

"The latest and best discussion of Qumran. . . This book is essential reading for specialists and general readers alike."

Harper's Magazine
"An admirably clear and concise progress report on what is known about this spectacular discovery."

"There's plenty of life left in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as amply demonstrated in this superb volume. . . A work of wide appeal."

Magen Broshi
"In the half century since Roland de Vaux excavated Qumran, the most important contributions to its archaeology have undoubtedly been made by Jodi Magness. Her erudite, painstaking, and levelheaded research has solved many of its problems. This book of hers is at once a first-rate scholarly work and a delightful read."

Lawrence H. Schiffman
"This book represents the most up-to-date study of the archaeological evidence from Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Jodi Magness has reexamined the archaeological record in great detail and has made judicious use of textual and historical sources to provide a sustained analysis of the highest quality. Finally we have a new study by a highly qualified archaeologist that will put to rest much of the amateurish discussion that surrounds Qumran while also making available to experts the material they need to debate the scholarly issues."

Emanuel Tov
"This volume offers an excellent analysis of the most burning questions related to the archaeology of Qumran and the neighboring sites, and it suggests well-considered and original answers. Written in an extremely attractive way, with both specialists and nonspecialists in mind, it whets the appetite for further study. The illustrations and indexes add much to the clarity of the discussion."

Eugene Ulrich
"Jodi Magness here provides the most up-to-date and balanced archaeological profile of the site connected with the Dead Sea Scrolls. With numerous theories floating around, it is refreshing to have available at last a well-researched analysis that is as well-written as it is authoritative. The nonspecialist will find this book easily readable, with all terms clearly explained, while the specialist will find a solid, comprehensive analysis such as we have long desired. "

James C. VanderKam
"In The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls Jodi Magness, the authority on Qumran archaeology, has supplied her most extended statement on the subject. Her analyses of the material evidence and the relevant literary sources are both definitive and a pleasure to read."

Geza Vermes
"A very learned, sensible, and readable account of Qumran archaeology written by a recognized expert. It will be a most welcome addition to the essential literature on the Dead Sea Scrolls."
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most interestingand important archaeological discoveries evermade, and the excavation of the Qumran communityitself has provided invaluable informationabout Judaism and the Jewish world in the lastcenturies B.C.E.

Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, the Qumransite continues to be the object of intensescholarly debate. In a book meant to introducegeneral readers to this fascinating area of study, veteran archaeologist Jodi Magness here providesan overview of the archaeology of Qumran andpresents an exciting new interpretation of thisancient community based on information foundin the Dead Sea Scrolls and other contemporarydocuments.

Magness's work offers a number of freshconclusions concerning life at Qumran. Sheagrees that Qumran was a sectarian settlementbut rejects other unconventional views, includingthe view that Qumran was a "villa rustica ormanor house. By carefully analyzing the publishedinformation on Qumran, she refines thesite's chronology, reinterprets the purpose of someof its rooms, and reexamines the archaeologicalevidence for the presence of women and childrenin the settlement. Numerous photos and diagramsgive readers a firsthand look at the site.

Written with an expert's insight yet with ajournalist's spunk, this engaging book is sureto reinvigorate discussion of this monumentalarchaeological find. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls & Related Literature
  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (August 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802845894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802845894
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The archaeology and scriptural/textual studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls have held the public imagination for much of the past half-century. Since the first Scrolls were discovered not far from the ancient site of Qumran in the late 1940s, there has been an air of mystery and intrigue around them unlike almost any other archaeological find. This is largely because of the association with the text of the Bible and the undeniable impact it has had on modern culture. The book The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls is a welcome addition to the ranks of basic introductory texts on the topic.
The author, Jodi Magness, is on the faculty of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Her professional interests centre largely on early Judaism, and include such topics as ancient pottery, ancient synagogue architecture and construction, the role of the Roman Army in the Eastern Empire, and, of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumrani settlement. An experienced field archaeologist, she has participated in twenty different excavations in the Middle East and Greece, including work at Masada, the great fortress in the south of Israel that was a `last stand' spot during the Jewish revolt against the Romans.
An Introduction to the Archaeology of Qumran
In her first chapter, Magness looks at the basics of Qumran. Not a tourist hot-spot until fairly recently, for much of its excavation history it has been a desolate and remote location. One problem Magness highlights is that the primary person associated with archaeological excavation of Qumran, Roland de Vaux, who was also part of the controversial scroll research and translation team, never published a final report on his archaeological studies.
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Format: Hardcover
In this well-written study Jodi Magness helps us see how people lived at Qumran and why they did things as they did. Unlike many scholars, Jodi Magness is persoanl in her reporting and evaluating. She speaks from experience as a working archaeologist. The Intoduction the Archaeology of Qumran is a fascinating overview of the field. Maps and illustrations add to the value of the introduction and the chapters which follow. Each of the ten chapters has an extensive bibliography to encourage in-depth study. Reading this book will not only add depth to Bible study but it will challenge the reader to see and appreciate more the world around him. What do the items found in our own backyards tell about people who lived where we do? Jodi Magness teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has participated in 20 different excavations in Israel and Greece.
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Format: Paperback
Amid all the scholarly debates, academic rivalries and imaginative theorists, the general reader needs an objective, factual, readable account of the ruins at Qumran and what they tell us about the people who lived there. This book fulfills this need.
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Format: Paperback
Most work on Qumran & the Dead Sea Scrolls is of a theological nature. This is the finest work I have found from an archaeological perspective. It is technical enough for the professionals and interesting for the lay people. It was a fitting prelude to visiting the actual exhibit.
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Format: Hardcover
Prof. Magness, an archaeologist with extensive relevant experience, provides in this book a fine treatment of the archaeology of Qumran, the site associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Associated, that is, by archaeology, as well as by proximity and by the content of the scrolls and external sources. This is now the best interpretation of the evidence--and she directly engages the material realia--currently in print, to my knowledge. Of course, as she acknowledges, this will not be the last word on the subject, as some excavated evidence has not yet been published. But enough is known of the material culture to explore many aspects of the site and its usage and chronology.
She analyses many of the previous proposals and shows several of them to be not credible. While I don't agree on every detail (e.g., the "toilet" might be listed with a question mark, as previously, pending further data) and while I could add--as could she!--more observations (e.g. for me, that Pliny's source on Essenes wrote circa 15 BCE; that the etymology of "Essenes" from Hebrew self-designations in the DSS, 'osey hatorah, observers of torah is increasingly recognized [she notes the option]), it's a pleasure to read this book. It is clearly written and well-informed (bibliographies are provided), unlike, for instance, the approach that denies Essenes while denying denying Essenes (as too hard to know, so bracket them out, yet use Josephus for all other subjects, including those harder to know), or the approach that alternates from saying goodbye to Essenes and then that Essenes cannot be located (how then are they to be excluded?--can't have it both ways).
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Jodi Magness points out in the introduction to her book that there are two reasons why fringe theories about the Dead Sea Scrolls are numerous. The second is that "we tend to side with the underdogs." The first reason is that controversy sells. Magness shows why the available archaeological evidence supports the basic conclusions of Roland de Vaux. The scrolls and the Qumran settlement are related. The scrolls were owned by a sectarian group. The settlement is not a villa rustica. Etc. Yet Magness does not rubber stamp the work of de Vaux. For example she sets forth her own chronology of the settlement.
This book is not for people who subscribe to fringe theories. There are no Christian writings found among the scrolls. Nor are the scrolls a depository of the Temple either in 62 BCE or 68 CE. There used to be a sect known as the Essenes who lived at Khirbet Qumran...
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