Information on the Dead Sea Scrolls

QUESTION: Where can I find more information on the Dead Sea Scrolls?

ANSWER:

The trick isn’t finding information on the Dead Sea Scrolls. A recent search at Amazon.com (as of March, 2005) revealed over 600 books written on the subject of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The difficulty is finding good information on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is important when delving into the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls to distinguish between solid scholarly work and pseudo-scholarly speculation. There have been, for example, efforts to associate the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the early Christian Church. This is the view espoused by Robert Eisenman, author of the controversial James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yes, it is true that a lot of parallels can be drawn between the two ancient Jewish communities, but the idea that the early Church actually wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls is a far stretch and those who advocate such views remain outside of the scholarly consensus.

There are those who maintain that the Vatican suppressed the scrolls because they undermine modern Christian orthodoxy. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh wrote The Dead Sea Scroll Deception in which they “exposed” this sensational conspiracy. Once again, this is unscholarly nonsense. Baigent and Leigh have been thoroughly rebutted by Biblical Archaeology Review’s Hershel Shanks, a highly respected Jewish scholar.

Barbara Thiering is another pseudo-scholar who makes some outrages Dead Sea Scroll claims. The reason I mention all of these pseudo-Dead Sea Scroll scholars is to illustrate the need to proceed in your studies with care. There is a lot of good information available but there is also plenty of bunk.

Now, with all of that said, a good resource which we recommend to get you started in your study of the Dead Sea Scrolls is Kenneth Hanson’s Dead Sea Scrolls: The Untold Story. Dr. Hanson is the Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies at the University of Central Florida, and an outstanding Hebrew scholar. He lived and studied in Israel for many years. His book is an insightful, thorough, and easy-to-read introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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