Book Review – The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls – Thames & Hudson 2002

This is a great introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the enigmatic ruins known as Qumran.  It provides a great deal of detail on the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls – at  least those portions that have been published.  It also takes time to criticize many of the key players with the scrolls who have allowed pride and professional infighting to delay publication of scroll contents.

It covers the contents of the major fragments, providing some interpretation (but not a literal character-by-character transcription).  A good section of the book deals with the enigma that is Qumran.  What was it?  Who was there and what did they believe?  What is the relationship between the ruins of Qumran and the scrolls found in the caves nearby the settlement.  Various competing theories are mentioned briefly and evaluated.

I came away from this book with a better understanding of the actual contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as a sadness and frustration that the vast majority of this material remains untranslated and clutched in the possessive hands of various academic institutions and individuals.




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