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The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation Paperback – October 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1946, the world of biblical studies was rocked by the discovery of several scrolls in caves around the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Scrolls contained translations of portions of the books of the Hebrew scriptures, a manual of discipline for the community responsible for producing the scrolls and a scroll that narrated an apocalyptic battle between the sons of light, led by a figure called the Teacher of Righteousness, and the sons of darkness. These documents gave biblical scholars a tantalizing glimpse of the then relatively unknown period of first-century Judaism and of the theology of at least one of its sects. Very quickly, though, the ownership of the scrolls became a point of great political contention between the Israeli government and American scholars like Frank Moore Cross at Harvard, and, consequently, translations of the scrolls appeared very slowly, if at all. Finally, in 1991, author Martin Abegg, then a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, published a volume of previously unreleased scrolls. Following this publication, the Huntington Library announced that it had photographs of all the unreleased scrolls and that it would allow unrestricted access to the photos. Wise, Abegg and Cook's collection is now the most complete collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls available. The authors' English translations capture the nuances of the Hebrew, and sometimes the Greek, of the scrolls, many of which are merely fragments. Also contained here is a thorough introduction to the history of the discovery of the scrolls and a theory about the community that produced the scrolls: the authors convincingly argue that the Essenes, to whom the scrolls are traditionally attributed, were likely not the community responsible for writing the scrolls. For all interested in learning from primary texts about the development of first-century Judaism, this is an essential volume
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Wise (The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, LJ 2/1/93) and his team of scholars and writers occupy what might be called the minority position in scrolls scholarship: The Qumran group cannot be identified simply as "Essenes," the site itself was not a headquarters, and few if any of the scrolls were written at Qumran. The position of Wise et al., in contrast with the "Standard Model" (as they call it), is set forth in a brief introduction along with the usual information about the discovery and publication of the scrolls. One of the most helpful things these translators do for nonspecialist readers is to explain the process of manuscript reconstruction and the use of brackets and parentheses to indicate missing portions of text and the like. The translations themselves are generally more idiomatic and less stiff than those in Florentino G. Martinez's The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated (Eerdmans, 1996. 2d ed.). As the fruit of an alternative approach to the origins and significance of the scrolls, and as a smooth translation, this work should be in collections where there is scholarly and popular interest.?Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; Revised edition (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006076662X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060766627
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Gilbert on October 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
This volume is an excellent book to either start or enhance one's study of the scrolls discovered near Qumran, commonly referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Although there has been some negative critique, (see other reviews) this book is very unbiased and scholarly in nature. Yes, there is an added commentary, and words filled in where there were no words preserved, but that is besides the fact. There has been no cover-up attempt to claim that these added texts are somehow the original; a guide at the beginning of the book clearly explains how to see what was actually contained in the scrolls and what was not. The commentary is necessary especially for those who have never looked in the scrolls at all to begin with, to at least give a basic framework. By nature, any commentary will have a level of bias - but it's not as though the book claims to have an inspired commentary - ignore the commentary if you're solely interested in the text!
I have had Dr. Wise for several graduate-level classes, and he has been very scholarly in his teaching, presenting the information that is known, and only on rare occasion giving his actual opinion instead of simply what has been discovered. His area of specialty is the Second Temple period in which the Dead Sea Scrolls play a significant role, which is one reason why he is so involved with them, and why this particular volume is so well written: it from the perspective of one who really cares about the issues surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I would recommend this volume to anyone as a fascinating source for study.
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Format: Paperback
This book needs to be considered alongside _The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated_ edited by Florentino Garcia-Martinez. Both are "comprehensive" translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls which have become available since the end of the embargo in the fall of 1991.
Wise, Abegg, and Cook organize this book primarily by the Qumran manuscript number. The exceptions are the manuscripts found in Cave 1 which have no number. These appear at the beginning of the book along with other manuscripts which relate to the same text. So for example, the Thanksgiving Scroll appears at the beginning of the book along with 4Q427-432. The Damascus Document also appears at the beginning of this book along with manuscripts Geniza A and B.
At the end of the book there is a helpful index of DSS manuscripts and the page(s) on which they may be found. There is also an index of references to other liturature, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and Rabbinic texts. So for example the editors find some connection between 4Q525 and Matthew 5.3-10. Both are beatitudes.
It is not a disadvantage of this book that it contains no Hebrew texts. I find that I want to look at photos of the manuscripts and judge the translations for myself. Nor is it a disadvantage of this book that it does not contain any biblical texts. Those may be found in a translated form in Martin Abegg's _Dead Sea Scrolls Bible_.
The advantage this book does have is its commentary. The editors have brought numerous significant items to the the attention of the reader which the non-specialist probably had not noticed. Even so, the commentary will bring some enlightenment to DSS specialists as well.
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Format: Paperback
In reading "James the Brother of Jesus" by Robert Eisenman, I found that I needed a translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I chose this edition over Vermes, who makes use of pseudo-biblical archaic language in his translations, because the language in Wise is clear and modern, and the introductions are excellent. My reservation is due to a puzzling ediorial decision: there are no informative headers on the pages to let the reader know at a glance which scroll is being looked at, particularly annoying in the longer scrolls. What is gained by inconviencing the the reader?
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Format: Paperback
"The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation" is a translation from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into modern English, intended for the non-specialist, by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook. There were 870 separate scrolls found in the caves near Khirbet Qumran in the 1940s, many of which are Biblical texts or duplicates. This book does not include the Biblical texts that don't differ significantly from those found elsewhere. It includes translations of 131 documents, often reconstructed from multiple scrolls, with explanatory introductions for each document. The editors begin by providing background on the discovery and translation of the scrolls, their contents, competing theories about the identity of their authors, and how the scrolls were reconstructed.

The texts themselves are in order of their scroll numbers, which means that some texts of like subjects are grouped together and some are not. Some documents are shorter than a page, while some are over 30 pages long. Some are badly fragmented and full of brackets where text is missing or cannot be deciphered; others are intact. The longer texts tend to be intact, so it isn't difficult to read those. The editors have placed explanatory headings in italics between sections of text, which is especially helpful for the fragments. The headings include references to any verses in the Tanakh or New Testament that the text may be compared to, or, in the case of law texts, there is sometimes a reference to the Mishnah also.

Introductions to each text are from a Christian point of view, but the authors are well-versed in the history of Second Temple Judaism, and the introductions are informative and often necessary, as in the lengthy explanation of the "calendar texts".
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