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Dead Sea Scrolls


New Perspectives on Old Texts: Proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 9–11 January, 2005 Edited by Esther G. Chazon & Betsy Halpern-Amaru, in collaboration with Ruth A. Clements (STDJ: Studies on the Texts in the Desert of Judah, 88: Brill) This volume presents new perspectives on the ancient texts discovered at Qumran. The essays offer fresh insights into particular texts and genres, by applying methods and constructs drawn from other disciplines to the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and by exploring new as well as long-standing issues raised by these works. The topics and approaches engaged include group identity, memory, ritual theory, sectarian sociology, philosophy of education, liturgical anthropology, Jewish law, history of religion, and mysticism. The articles in this volume were originally presented at the Tenth Annual International Orion Symposium sponsored in 2005 by the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. More

Communities of the Last Days: The Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament & the Story of Israel by C. Marvin Pate (Intervarsity Press) tells the story of the discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Introduces us to these ancient Jewish texts and fragments, and to the community that produced and collected them. Within this remarkable evidence of a Jewish sectarian community of the first century, Pate finds an analysis and solution to Israel's plight that offers remarkable points of comparison and contrast with early Christianity, as we know it from the New Testament.

Drawing  on the recent plethora of Dead Sea Studies and utilizing the interpretive angle offered by N. T. Wright, Marvin Pate explores the relationship between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. How did the Essene community of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian communities of the New Testament express their distinct self-understandings as communities living in the last days and fulfilling the story of Israel? Viewed through the lenses of hermeneutical perspective, messianic belief, the reverse of the Deuteronomic curse, the promised new covenant, and the nexus of symbol, praxis and story, the Scrolls cast interpretive light on familiar New Testament texts.

Communities of the Last Days enriches our understanding of modern scholarship's indisputable conclusion that Jesus and early Christianity were firmly rooted in the world of first-century Judaism.


Over fifty years have elapsed since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the most celebrated, if not fortuitous, archaeological discovery of this century. In the spring of that year, three Bedouin shepherds were in the area called Qumran, which is on the northwest side of the Dead Sea, apparently tending their flock. The shepherds were cousins and members of the Ta'amireh tribe, one of whom, Jum'a Muhammad Khalil, amused himself by throwing rocks at a cave opening in the cliffs to the west of the plateau at Qumran. One of the stones went into the cave and made a shattering noise. The Bedouin did not enter the cave that day, but two days later one of them, Muhammad ed-Dhib, went back to it and, venturing in, found ten jars. One of those jars held three ancient manuscripts. The rest of the containers were empty, but later four additional scrolls were found hidden in that cave. The discovery of those ancient documents and the hundreds more that nearby caves would later yield is regarded by many as the most significant archaeological finding in the twentieth century and as nothing short of providential.

It is no small coincidence that, in the same year the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed, the nation of Israel was reborn, creating an intriguing parallel between the two: The creation of modern Israel, like the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, symbolized the culmination point of the Old Testament history of the Jews. Such a story moved from exile to restoration. For modern Israel, it meant that Jews came to their native land from all quarters of the Diaspora (a term used for Jews living outside of Israel since the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 587 B.C.). For the Dead Sea Scrolls, as chapter one of this work will detail, the story of ancient Israel manifested itself in terms of those documents' being held hostage for over forty years by a few non-Jewish scholars, who reluctantly relinquished them to their rightful owners only after public pressure was brought to bear on the situation. Ironically, the story of the Scrolls paralleled that of ancient Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile to their homeland in

539 B.C. only to realize that they were still held captive by foreigners? But how does the New Testament factor into this discussion? Two significant considerations quickly come to mind that motivate the writing of this book. First, the Dead Sea Scrolls (hereafter DSS) have emerged as a key player in the question of the origins of Christianity. Now that Gnosticism (and Hellenism in general) has finally released its grip on the topic, the way has been paved for the DSS to step into the forefront of the discussion. This is so because both communities Christian and Essene (most probably the people who wrote the Scrolls; see chapter two)-are rooted in Jewish apocalypticism and therefore share a common legacy of ideas. This present work will focus on that dimension. While other Jewish apocalyptic groups were approximately contemporaneous with the New Testament (hereafter NT)-for example, the reading communities of 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra and 2 Apocalypse of Baruch-the large volume of material comprising the DSS makes it the leading candidate for comparison with the NT. Second, intimately related to the previous point, both the DSS and the NT utilize apocalypticism to tell the story of Israel, which unfolds in the topics of sin, exile and restoration, though each set of documents tells the story from its respective point of view.

These two factors combine to articulate the thesis of this study: The story of Israel is the metanarrative adapted by the DSS and the NT. In what follows, I introduce the subject by offering an explanation of the thesis, the methodology employed in developing that thesis in this book and an overview of the work.

The concern of this study centers on the story of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament (hereafter OT), especially the book of Deuteronomy. That writing promised the Jews long life and blessings in the land of Israel if they obeyed the Torah (Dent 1:8-11; 4:1-8; 5:29-6:25; 7:128:10;11:1-15,18-25; 28:1-14; 30:11-15; 33; cf. Lev 18:4-5; 25:18-19; 26:313). In the event, however, that Jews acted unwisely by disobeying the law of Moses, they could expect to experience the Deuteronomic curses, including their defeat by the nations and exile into foreign subjugation (Deut 4:9-28; 8:11-20;11:16-17; 27:15-26; 28:15-68; 31:16-32:51; cf. Lev 18:24-30; 26:14-39). The alternative choices of life and death based respectively on obedience and disobedience to the Torah are suc

cinctly interwoven in Deuteronomy 7:6-11;11:26-28. Alas, however, the ominous warnings regarding the Deuteronomic curses upon Israel tragically turned into reality (cf. Deut 29:24-27 with 2 Kings 22:14-17 and Jer 22:9).

Nevertheless, the hope for a brighter tomorrow also informs Deuteronomy, as the restoration prophecies therein indicate, for according to Deuteronomy 4:29, 31; 30:1-10 (cf. Lev 26:40-45), the promise is held out to Israel that, if she will return to the Mosaic law in exile, then God will restore Jews, the chosen people, to their land and will exalt them above the nations (see Deut 7:6-7;10:14-15;14:2; 26:19; 28:1). The story of Israel, then, follows the trajectory of sin-exile-restoration.

The message of Deuteronomy came true, or so it would seem. Israel broke covenant with God and from 605 to 587 B.C. was sent into exile to Babylonia (the beginning of the Diaspora). In 539 B.C., however, Cyrus the Persian, the new ruler of the world, permitted the Jews to return to their land. Many thought the long-awaited restoration had arrived, but such a hope was soon dashed. The rebuilt temple paled in significance compared to the Solomonic temple with its pristine glory, the people of God did not yet obey the Torah fully from the heart, and foreign nations continued to run roughshod over the land of Israel: Greece, Egypt, Syria and Rome. A strange and foreboding reality therefore set in. Israel, though now returned to the Promised Land, was still in exile.

As is increasingly being recognized among scholars today, the problem of Second Temple Judaism (539 B.C.-A.D. 70), including the DSS and the NT, was how to resolve the dilemma of Israel's restoration." Various responses to that quandary were formulated and vociferously presented as divinely sanctioned by different groups-Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes and Christians, to name some of the more well-known sects. In providing alternative answers, however, each circle rewrote, indeed subverted, the story of Israel, redefining its symbols (Torah, temple and racial ethnicity), rituals (feasts, sacrificial system) and beliefs (monotheism, election and eschatology) e The result was both continuity and discontinuity in retelling the story of Israel; the former because it was still the story of Israel, but the latter because different endings to that story were proposed.

This is where the relationship of the DSS to the NT enters into the

picture, for these two groups retold the story of Israel from a decidedly apocalyptic perspective, that is, they believed themselves to be restored Israel living in the last days. It is this conviction that will guide the comparative analysis of the two bodies of literature in this study. To my knowledge such an undertaking has not yet been attempted by Jewish or Christian scholars. The working assumption and methodology being suggested here account for the similarities and differences between the DSS and the NT. The similarities stem from the fact that both are retelling the same story line, while the dissimilarities proceed from the dynamic that they are redefining the symbols, rituals and beliefs of that story. This approach should deliver us from the danger of parallelomania, the presumption that parallel ideas in two writings necessarily indicate literary dependence between them. When this has occurred in past studies of the relationship between the DSS and the NT, the direction of borrowing has been thought largely to proceed from the NT to the DSS, though some scholars espouse the reverse (see chapter two). The type of comparative analysis followed in this work, however, avoids the pitfall of that methodology by arguing that the similarities between the DSS

and the NT are due rather to their common parent tradition (the story of Israel) but presented from antithetical perspectives, thus accounting for their differences."

My thesis-the story of Israel is adapted by the DSS and the NT will unfold as follows. Chapter one will detail the story of Israel as it is related to the discovery and publication of the DSS. Chapter two will attempt to demonstrate that the Essenes produced the DSS and that they, like the early Christians, read the story of Israel to suit their own worldview. Chapter three sketches the literature comprising the DSS and from that argues that the Essenes at Qumran employed, like Matthew, an eschatological hermeneutic in portraying themselves as the embodiment of the true Israel prophesied in the OT. Chapter four examines messianic hope as espoused in the DSS and in the NT vis-avis the restoration of Israel. Chapter five investigates the concept of the people of God as operative in the DSS and in Luke-Acts. Chapter six considers how it is one enters and remains in the new covenant of the true Israel, according to the DSS and the apostle Paul. Chapter seven analyzes the relationship of wisdom, law and the restoration of Israel as depicted in the Colossian heresy and in the DSS, centering on the role of angels in that discussion. Chapter eight highlights the beliefs, or building blocks, of the story of Israel (monotheism, covenant and eschatology) as presented in Hebrews and in the DSS. Chapter nine focuses on the topics of exile and eschatology in the DSS and in John.

As it turns out, these chapters basically correlate with the NT in the following way: After the introductory material in chapters one and two, chapter three explores Matthew; chapter four draws on the Synoptic Gospels, especially Mark; chapter five centers on the two-volume work of Luke-Acts; chapter six highlights a key concern in the Pauline letters; chapter seven addresses a significant topic in the Pauline tradition; chapter eight focuses on one of the later NT epistles, Hebrews; chapter nine deals with the Johannine writings, especially the Gospel of John.

These comments have presented the thesis to be developed in this study, its method of investigation and an overview of its outworking, all of which revolve around the story of Israel. Yet if this theme is so important, we must ask at this point, why has it gone unnoticed by so many DSS scholars? The answer to this question, which I will discuss in chapter one, is that only recently has the complete corpus of the DSS been released to the public.

Recent Translations Enliven the Dead Sea Scrolls


by Geza Vermes

Allen Lane, The Penguin Press

$39.95, hardcover, 648 pages, notes, bibliography, general index, maps


The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judaean desert between 1947 and 1956 transformed our understanding of the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism and the origins of Christianity. These extraordinary scrolls appear to have been hidden in the caves at Qumran by members of the Essene community, a Jewish sect existing before and during the time of Jesus.

Fifty years after the Scrolls’ first discovery, and following the release of the scroll texts to scholars in 1991, this revised and expanded edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls in English crowns a lifetime of research by the esteemed Qumran scholar Geza Vermes. This is the complete and authoritative Scrolls edition available, designed for general readers. It contains intelligible translations of all the texts sufficiently well preserved to be rendered into English. So far unpublished texts are included, among them important documents relating to the Community’s liturgical calendar, its rules and observances, further sections of the Genesis Apocrypha, much Wisdom literature and, remarkably, a crucial inscription discovered among the Qumran ruins in 1996.

The authority, clarity and practical qualities of these translations are immediately evident to anyone familiar with the problem of translating this material. Instead of notes, there are brief introductions to each document and at the beginning of each chapter detailed historical, cultural and religious background information is provided. THE COMPLETE DEAD SEA SCROLLS is a useful collection for anyone who wants to understand Second Temple Judaism and the origins of Christianity.

I. Introduction
A Bird's-Eye View of Fifty Years of Dead Sea Scrolls Research
The Present State of Dead Sea Scrolls Studies
Qumran and the New Testament
Qumran's Greatest Novelty
II. The Community
App.: The Essenes and the Qumran Community
III. The History of the Community
IV. The Religious Ideas of the Community
List of Abbreviations
Note on This Translation
A. The Rules
B. Hymns and Poems
C. Calendars, Liturgies and Prayers
D. Apocalyptic Works
E. Wisdom Literature
F. Bible Interpretation
G. Biblically Based Apocryphal Works
Scroll Catalogue
Index of Qumran Texts
Major Editions of Qumran Manuscripts
General Bibliography
General Index

Geza Vermes was born in Hungary in 1924. He studied in Budapest and Louvain and in 1953 obtained a doctorate in theology with a dissertation on the historical framework of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He has taught in England since 1957, first at Newcastle and since 1965 at Oxford, where he is now Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies. Geza Vermes was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1985 and has received honorary doctorates from the universities of Edinburgh, Durham and Sheffield. He has been director of the Forum for Qumran Research at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew end Jewish Studies since 1991.

A New Translation

by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., Edward Cook
$35.00, hardcover, 528 pages; bibliography, indexes
ISBN 0-06-069200-6

The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated
The Qumran Texts in English, Second Edition

by Florentino Garcia Martinez
E.J. Brill
ISBN 90-04-10589-1
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
$30.00, paper, 519 pages
ISBN 0-8028-4193-7

Now the resolute reading public can attempt to decipher the significance of the scrolls. Given the need to rely upon the translations of others, one can now discover just how malleable our Jewish and Christian traditions are. So far all translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been anthologies of selected texts. Usually a selection is based upon the general preservation of the fragments and their intrinsic interest .

For several years now the best edition of translations, that does not over interpret the texts, has been The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, the Qumran Texts in English. This masterful translation has set the norm for nontechnical approaches to the text.

Now in its second edition the work has been enhanced with new texts and brought up to date with better translations. The work offers some useful features such as a full description of all the Dead Sea Scrolls and the whereabouts of their technical translations. The book presents the fragments with minimal obvious editorial interference.

The new translations offered by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook in The Dead Sea Scrolls, a New Translation, offers some more guidance to the casual reader by setting the fragments into historic, literary and religious context. Both translations do not fully reproduce the same selection of fragments. The Wise, Abegg, and cook translation offers an easy guide to the points of controversy in the Scrolls. They provide more editorial intervention with interpretive introductions to each section. The Hebrew and Christian scriptural index in the volume is a sure guide to places of controversy. It is a feature the Garcia Martinez book does not have. Where translations in these two popular renditions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are of the same text, there are some significant variations in word choice and meaning to make comparisons useful in coming to an understanding the significance of the texts for one's religious and cultural heritage.

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The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern

an Exhibit at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC

The exhibition Scrolls From the Dead Sea: The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Scholarship brings before the
American people a selection from the scrolls which have been the subject of intense public interest. Over the years questions
have be en raised about the scrolls' authenticity, about the people who hid them away, about the period in which they lived,
about the secrets the scrolls reveal, and about the intentions of the scrolls' custodians in restricting access. The Library's
exhibition describes the historical context of the scrolls and the Qumran community from whence they may have originated; it
also relates the story of their discovery 2,000 years later. In addition, the exhibition encourages a better understanding of the
challenge s and complexities connected with scroll research.

The exhibition is divided into five sections:

Introduction -- The World of the Scrolls
The Qumran Library
The Qumran Community
Today -- 2,000 Years Later

From http://sunsite.unc.edu/expo/deadsea.scrolls.exhibit/intro.html

Definitely the best place to learn about the Scrolls.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.


$16.95, paper, 117 pages, notes, indexes


This study offers a select anthology than enhances our understanding of Second Temple Judaism and formative Christianity by providing an analysis of the Wisdom texts from Qumran. The introduction offers a fine analysis of the wisdom traditions. New translations and full explanations of the background and context for the wisdom literature introduce the reader to an important and so far little discussed aspect of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

After surveying biblical and extrabiblical wisdom books, Harrington considers the best and most fully preserved wisdom texts from Qumran. The center piece of this anthology is a discussion of the large wisdom instruction known as Sapiential Work.. Also, the author reflects on the relevance of those texts for the study of early Judaism and Christianity.


Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., is Professor of New Testament at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Practical Wisdom from the Dead Sea


Understanding their Spiritual Message

by Steven A. Fisdel


$40.00, cloth, 354 pages, bibliography, index


The Dead Sea Scrolls reflect the belief and experience of generations of Jews, spanning a period of almost three centuries, from the Maccabean Revolt to the destruction of Jerusalem. Rabbi Fisdel seeks to open a window onto this critical time, so pivotal in the development of Judaism and in the emergence of Christianity. By presenting the historical backdrop and letting the scroll literature speak for itself, this work offers a better understanding of the state and content of Jewish belief during the height of the Greco-Roman Era; an age of broad diversity in religious thought and of great spiritual richness.

This book begins by presenting the historical background of the Jewish people. It discusses the nature and broad ramifications of the core idea of the Covenant, emphasizing its centrality in both Israel’s relationship to God and in understanding the spiritual messages inherent in the Dead Sea material. The nature and structure of the Essene community are elaborated on and questions about the community’s origins and development is discussed in depth. Great attention is paid to what the scrolls say regarding the Temple, sacrifice, as well as ritual and ritual purity. Careful scrutiny is given to the nature of the Law of and to the apocalyptic End of Days, culminating in the salvation of humankind.

As a whole, the Scrolls expound a unified message of hope and redemption for Israel and for the world. The anticipation is that their message of spiritual renewal will be heard again and that the literature of the Dead Sea will take its rightful place among the great classics of religious literature, to serve as a source of knowledge and guidance for all spiritual seekers.

Rabbi Fisdel is sensitive to the pastoral dimensions of the Scrolls. He considers for us the message that Scrolls offer for us, providing an important link of these ancient writings and the daily piety of Jewish life. His consideration of the Wisdom traditions offers a flavor of his important interpretation.

Spiritual evolution, striving to acclimate one’s life and attune one’s deeds to the divine, to the Will of God, is a very primal and sacred course of action. It is of utmost importance in terms of service to God and spiritual growth. It requires deep conviction and determination to cling to the light and to make the light part of one’s daily existence. A slackard cannot be trusted with such an important task. There is no reason to believe that a person who is only paying lip service or who is simply disinterested in spiritual growth is either going to pay attention to your instructions or bother to carry them out.

Rabbi Fisdel considers the central message of the Scrolls considering Jewish traditions of Law. No credence or authority should be given to an individual who makes decisions arbitrarily and on an uninformed basis. A person who decides something without proper investigation is like one who is gullible, believing anything. Such a person accepts a belief without pondering it, thinking it over fully, or understanding it at all. Such an individual should not be put in a position of authority over people who are actively searching and pursuing Wisdom. He or she has no basis for understanding their position and their views. As a result, he or she is not able to determine who is right and who is wrong or to justify the righteous or condemn the wicked.

It is incorrect, however, to assume that the pursuit of Wisdom is only a process designed to help individuals perfect themselves in anticipation of the End time. Although that is its function in the Age of Wickedness, obtaining Wisdom and becoming one with it also has a primary role in the life of the individual and society in the post-End Time, in the coming age. The pursuit of Wisdom is not merely a process necessary for banishing evil and preparing for the messianic age. It is also the fundamental prerequisite element for living a full life in the Kingdom of God.

According to the Aramaic fragments of the text, the Testament of Levi (found among the Dead Sea literature) one prays for Wisdom. If you seek Wisdom, it will find you. When one possesses Wisdom, one does justice and acts according to true, clear judgment. One then lives fully and completely in the Divine Presence. These principles are not limited only to the pre-messianic era. Rather, they also represent the pattern for life in the Kingdom of God. The post End Time represents the construction of a world based on justice, divine intervention, and guidance, a new higher form of the Law of God incumbent on all mankind.

Levi’s admonition is always to teach God’s Law, its interpretation, and the Wisdom upon which it is based. One’s words and one’s deeds must always be righteous and must always be based on the truth. Wisdom comes from this combination of adherence to the Law, consistency in truth and honesty, and from teaching what one has come to understand. Light produces light. It expands outward, beneficially effecting others. Wisdom is universal. It is respected universally. It provides its own rewards. The patriarch Joseph, Levi points out, taught Torah, interpretation of the Law, and Wisdom. As a result, he became a great and honored man. Not just among Jews was he revered, but by all men whom he encountered. The Torah, the deeper levels of God’s Law, is seen here to consist of universal principles that will, in their purer forms, act as a guide to all of humanity in the era to come.

It is stated in one Scroll that a person whose heart is encased in fat—that is, it is buried, unexposed, and unavailable—should not be expected to penetrate the deep thought of Wisdom. Such a person is unable to fathom it or even attempt to. Because his or her actions do not accord with Wisdom, Wisdom remains hidden, buried deep within the heart, unable to emerge and rule over this person’s life and consciousness. On the other hand, a person of intelligence will accept understanding. A person of knowledge [one who seeks to know God intimately] will derive Wisdom. One who is honest will seek judgment. Such an individual will be an opponent of and a source of contention to anyone trying to remove the behavioral boundaries set by divine law.

Another Scroll explains that one whose life is ruled by Wisdom will meditate on God’s Law always. The Torah and Wisdom will be before such a person all his life. Wisdom will lift up his head, raising his consciousness, his sense of self and sense of purpose. His eyes will be lifted continually to the light. Lovers of God will look upon Wisdom and walk carefully within her boundaries.

This enlightenment is predicted upon meditation. Meditating and seeking Wisdom is a lifelong process. When one reaches a new level of consciousness, new awareness of the divine law's surface and one is then responsible for making constructive use of the acquired knowledge. Fulfilling the laws from the higher perspective, in turn, leads one to spiritual transformation. Eventually, one completes this level of consciousness and must move on to the next. Meditation is a constant throughout this process. First, to reach new levels of awareness and then to understand them fully once reached, meditation and the use of meditative focus are involved. Wisdom is only accessed through meditation and practice. Wisdom is the key to both reaching higher consciousness and to learning to understand it and utilize it properly.

Seeking Wisdom involves meditation on the Law of God. Meditation on the Law is a gateway to Wisdom. One learns about something initially by studying the details. One learns even more deeply what one is dealing with by contemplating and pondering the details. Meditation leads beyond the details to the levels of reality that underlie it.

Meditation is the seeking of the heart, mind, and soul after Wisdom. "Allow me to remember my song during the night, with my heart I will meditate and my spirit will search out" (Psalms 77:7). Wisdom is the key to spiritual development. Meditation on the Law and the commandments is the key to Wisdom. "On Your statutes will I meditate" (Psalms 119:15). The true seeker, the wise man, understands this. He focuses his attention on the Law. He meditates on the commandments in a continuing quest for deeper knowledge and a closer bond to God through harmony with His Law. "For if his desire is in the Law of God, then on His Law will he meditate day and night" (Psalms 1:2).

The pursuit of Wisdom is central to the future life of humanity. It is the gateway by which mankind evolves and through which communication and bonding with God is furthered. This reality would seem to be a core element in the restoration of Eden and of human life in the coming Kingdom of God.

Wisdom reveals. It brings the wise, those who pursue Wisdom, to new states of consciousness. Wisdom enlightens. It opens up deeper truths and teaches the righteous new directions. Wisdom links mankind to the living Word of God, molding man’s life and behavior in paths ever more acceptable to the Creator of all. Seeking Wisdom is the model of the righteous. It is the model both of the present and of the future age.

Wisdom possesses several different components. Wisdom is transcendent. It resides at the highest levels of Creation and embodies the living Will of God. By clinging to Wisdom, mankind is influenced by it. Wisdom penetrating the human heart guides the spiritual evolution of the human race. The very foundation for serving God is the possession of Wisdom. On the basis of the awe of God and on reverence for the Divine, Wisdom links man’s will to God’s Will and transforms the individual into a vessel for holy service.

Within the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the literature of the Second Temple period, Wisdom is equated frequently with the Torah, with God’s Law. The commandments, the statutes, and ordinances are all an articulation of the Divine Will and therefore an embodiment of Wisdom. Moreover, Wisdom is also seen as the blueprint for Creation itself. The inherent order of the universe is established through its dependency on God’s plan, through an internal program that regulates all, allowing everything to exist and to function. Natural law and moral law are seen as implicit within Creation and another expression of Wisdom.

One more very salient feature of Wisdom needs to be clarified— that is the aspect of Revelation. Wisdom embodies the power of revealing that which is most concealed. Wisdom reveals the hidden Will of God to those who pursue it, cling to it, and internalize it. Wisdom is the vehicle for Revelation. Only through Wisdom can God’s Law and God’s plan be comprehended.

Deep are the layers of interconnection and of meaning that hold the fabric of Creation together. The Will of God is embedded in the structure of Creation. The plan of Creation forms the essence of God’s creative purpose. Wisdom is itself the plan of Creation. Therefore, it alone is the only true vehicle available to humanity for understanding the Will of God. Connection to Wisdom is the key to Revelation.

In the Book of Daniel, the equation of Wisdom with Revelation is made very clear. In Daniel, chapter 2, the king demands that not only is it incumbent upon the wise men of Babylon to interpret his true way of life, which would be implemented in the Kingdom of God It felt it was establishing the prototype of man’s relationship to the Creator, for Israel and for the world, by illustrating several basic principles that would apply to all of humanity in the coming age. In the view of the literature of the Second Temple period, Wisdom in its fullest context is to dominate human experience in the coming Kingdom of God.

With the restoration of Eden, God will make mankind truly great Our greatness will stem from a way of life based on Wisdom. Humanity will be taught Wisdom. It will become our guide God’s Will be known to us through an intimate, interactive process connecting us with a higher knowledge. Our rejection of all evil will be complete and final. As a result, we will inherit the knowledge of God’s truth, generation after generation.

Wisdom is the pursuit of justice. It is the adherence to God’s Law. It is living one’s life in absolute steadfastness in the truth. It is being pure of heart and studying God’s ordinances with clean hands. It is pursuit of the path of Wisdom by walking in the Law of the Most High and keeping Wisdom before one’s eyes throughout one’s entire life.

In the coming age, we are to walk on the path that was set by the Patriarchs. Blessed is the person who follows the road God commanded to Isaac and established for Jacob, walking according to the words of God. We are to bear in mind that human life is transitory. It blossoms and thrives. Then it withers and dies, being blown away without leaving a trace. We are to trust in God’s saving and sustaining power, remembering the miracles God did for our forefathers in Egypt. Trusting in miracles, the manifested power of God, we are to seek out a way of life guided by Wisdom, directed by the hand of God Then will we be united with the angels. As did our fathers Abraham’ Isaac, and Jacob, we, too, are to draw Wisdom from the great power of God. Our lives are to be a dialogue with God. If we grasp wisdom, then it becomes a way of life and it is passed on to coming generations as an inheritance. Blessed is the person to whom Wisdom is given.

The guiding principle of the Kingdom of God will be the possession of Wisdom by humanity. Reverence and awe for God will be the core of man’s renewed relationship with God as Eden is restored Wisdom has always guided individuals of great spiritual stature and devotion to God throughout the ages. In the coming age, it wills the inheritance of the righteous. Evil having been eradicated from our midst, the world will be in a state pure enough to house the Presence of God. Wisdom, the guiding light of God’s Will, will become everpresent. It will facilitate the deep and continuing dialogue with the Almighty that is to be the hallmark of the new age of Eden. That is the vision of the scrolls.

Rabbi Fisdel work has begun the hard work of making the Dead Sea Scrolls part of the living Jewish heritage.

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The Hidden Scrolls
Christianity, Judaism, and the War for the Dead Sea Scrolls

by Neil Asher Silberman
Grosset / Putnam
$24.95, hardcover; 306 pages
ISBN 0-399-13982-6

Paper edition also available.

Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls
The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran

by Lawrence H. Schiffman
The Jewish Publication Society
cloth; 529 pages; photos, maps
ISBN 0-8276-0530-7

The Community of the Renewed Covenant
The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls

edited by Eugene Ulrich, James VanderKam
University of Notre Dame Press
$29.95, cloth, 272 pages
ISBN 0-268-00807-3
$15.95, paper; 290 pages
ISBN 0-268-00816-7

Scrolls from the Dead Sea
An Exhibition of Scrolls and Archeological Artifacts from the Collections of the Israel Antiquities Authority

by Ayala Sussman, Ruth Peled
George Braziller
$29.95, cloth; 160 pages; 50 color illustrations, map. timeline, table of ancient Hebrew scripts,
referenced, selected further readings
ISBN 0-8076-1333-9

The Truth under Lock and Key?
Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls
by Klaus Berger
translated by James S. Currie
Westminster John Knox Press
paper; 113 pages

Controversy has plagued the scholarly interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls since their discovery in 1947. They are Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts unearthed in caves near Wadi Qumran, in what is now the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on the north-western shore of the Dead Sea. They were left there by a Jewish community that lived in the area around the time of Christ and the Second Temple.

The scrolls contain several types of Jewish religious literature, including many parts of the Old Testament in Hebrew, Greek translation, and Aramaic paraphrase (Targum). Biblical material was also rewritten, imitated, and expanded in stories, thematic collections of biblical texts, commentaries, hymns, psalms, blessings, prayers, exhortations to wisdom, and elaborations of biblical law.

Also found were non-biblical Jewish literature and scrolls that testify to the world view and theology of the Qumran community. Among the latter are the Community Rule, which defines its goals and way of life; the War Scroll, which describes the final, apocalyptic battle of good against evil; and the Temple Scroll (which some date prior to the community), describing an ideal Jerusalem Temple and laws for a sanctified people.

The collection consists chiefly of thousands of fragments, most of them very small. Complete documents are relatively few in number. Although they had been preserved in dry caves for almost 2,000 years, all the scrolls show some damage--frayed edges, deterioration, and discoloration.

Infrared photography and a variety of other scientific techniques were used to decipher the writing. The largest and best preserved scrolls were quickly photographed, translated, and made available to the scholarly world. However, many of the manuscripts had broken into hundreds of small parts that had to pieced together, identified, and interpreted.

An international team of scholars divided up the work, but more than 40 years later many of the texts still have not been published. Public protests over the delay in 1992 accelerated the process of making the Scrolls available.

Now we have popular translations that can guide us in making up our own mind what these documents mean for our religious heritage
The original publication of the scrolls caused an instantaneous sensation. They were quickly dated from the 2d century BCE through the 1st century CE by the script in which they were written and by archaeological investigations of the settlement near the Qumran caves. Carbon dating and other techniques have confirmed this dating.

They give firsthand evidence for Jewish thought and religion in the New Testament period. The implications for Christian origins suggests that Palestinian Christianity was more profoundly Jewish and political than has usually been thought. The importance of the find has been distorted by Christian-centered interpretations by the first scholars to publish in the field.

More recently the sectarian bias has been recognized and more balanced approaches to the scrolls as throwing light upon Judaism of the Second Temple period is seen as the major significance. Silberman provides the first balanced account of the scholarly debate over rights to publish and interpret the scrolls, that have raged for over 40 years. He also gives a readable introduction about the significance of the scrolls, especially for Jewish history.

The scrolls have had basically revolutionary effect upon our understanding of the history of the Second Temple period on historical and religious knowledge. The diversity of the literature has revealed the rich variety of Jewish tradition in antiquity, thus providing a context for understanding the development of early Judaism and Christianity.

"We are immigrants from the past," says Jack Miles, the noted author, in God: A Biography. For both Christians and Jews, Palestine in the first century C.E. is Our homeland, our Old Country. We have immigrated from the world of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so it is only natural that, though they are two thousand years old, they still have much to say to us.
For Jews, the Qumran texts say, "Our family was larger than you knew." The watchword is diversity. Modern Judaism comes from Pharisaism, but in the first centuries B. C.E. and C. E. there were also other kinds of Judaism, and it was not obvious that the Pharisees would be the ones still standing at the end of the day. Understanding the world of the first century C.E. now
means understanding the fact of diversity, and the scrolls have helped cultivate a sense of the historical complexity of the matrix of Judaism and of early Christianity. The scrolls teach, indirectly, a message the scroll writers themselves would have repudiated; that is, that there are different ways of being authentically Jewish. Any effort to "reclaim the scrolls for Judaism"
must acknowledge that truth.
For Christians, the texts say, "You are more Jewish than you realized." There are many individual parallels between passages in the scrolls and the New Testament, and we point out some of these in the body of the book. But those connections are less important than certain broad views that the two groups of documents share: a pervasive dualism expressed as Light
versus Darkness; the necessity of conversion; the idea that God's purposes are secrets revealed only to those who accept certain teachings; the high estimate placed on poverty -all are traits of early Christian belief that scholars used to attribute to the influence of Greco-Roman culture, not to Jewish background. Yet all are now attested in the scrolls. Early Christianity, we learn, was not a hybrid of Judaism and Hellenism it was rooted in the native soil of Palestine.
For both Jews and Christians, the Dead Sea Scrolls group are the cousins we never knew we had; the scrolls themselves are lost letters from home. When they tell us about our forebears, they tell us about ourselves. Like all lost letters from home, they beckon to us, draw us irresistibly to hear their message. Like an letters from home, they are well worth reading.

From the introduction The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation, by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., Edward Cook. HarperSanFrancisco


Scrolls from the Dead Sea, an Exhibition of Scrolls and Archeological Artifacts from the Collections of the Israel Antiquities Authority is a catalogue of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, providing a fine introduction to the mainline debates raging in scholarly circles about the significance of these documents for Second Temple Judaism and Christian origins. The volume is well designed and a fine summary of scholarly consensus. That there is a general consensus about the broad significance of the scrolls is well attested in this recent batch of books.
Knowledge about the Qumran community has been greatly increased. The magisterial study by Schiffman provides the best comprehensive account of the scrolls meaning for Jewish history. If one were to read only one book about the significance of the scrolls, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls is by far the most detailed and important reinterpretation of the significance of
the Scrolls, not only for Jewish history but for a balanced view of possible Christian origins. Schiffman's work is easily the most authoritative large scale interpretation to emerge in years.
Most interpretations of the scrolls are presented in brief technical essays or large scholarly monographs. The Community of the Renewed Covenant: The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls collects some important observations by some of the most distinguished scholars working in the field today. Not all the papers are suitable to a general reader but each essay does offer a fascinating glimpse into the labyrinthine thought and analysis that goes into Dead Sea Scroll research.
In April of 1993 the completed microfiche edition of the scrolls at last became available to the world at large. This followed a number of pirated editions. And a long list of charges of highhanded and underhanded treatment of researchers, prohibiting access to the fragments.

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The first essay by a dean of contemporary Qumran scholarship, Shemaryahu Talmon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, tells that the best way to identify the community that generated these documents be through the texts themselves and warns against too freely ascribing the Essene identity to the scrolls. His address is also a fine overview of many of the areas of
principle concern to the scholarship exhibited in this volume. The nature of religious law as it relates to the possible identity of the communities, how the scrolls relate and use scripture, with special emphasis upon the Wisdom traditions and liturgy, and the peculiar substance of the apocalypticism, messianism and eschatology frame the papers in this work. The volume
demonstrates a cautious and conservative interpretation of the texts, and supports the scholarly consensus.

The Community of the Renewed Covenant reports ongoing academic debate about the nature of the law, the significance of worship in the wisdom literature, providing greater nuance to eschatology, and the interrelationship cited scripture to the mainstream biblical tradition. The copies of biblical books, older than any others in existence, have illuminated many previously unclear passages of the standard Hebrew Bible, and have shown that the ancient Greek translations often reflect authentic Hebrew variations that had hitherto been lost. In many ways this is the most recent research available and represents current state of knowledge. Except for the first introductory paper these essays are only likely to attract the fervent interest on students of the period.

Berger's The Truth under Lock and Key? was written before the more recent revelations, but as a nontechnical introduction to the meaning if the Scrolls for a Christian, it is one of the best theologically informed accounts about the meaning of the texts for Christian origins out of Second Temple period. Berger provides astute insights into the thematic and theological significance of the texts for biblical informed Christians.

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS FOUNDATION: You can contribute to the needed funding of future volumes. Oxford University
Press will eventually publish a thirty-five volume series entitled Discoveries in the Judaean Desert which will reproduce the discoveries in great detail. The Oxford series will be the basis for all future translations and studies of the scrolls. The single most important reason for the delay in publishing the remainder of the scrolls has been insufficient funding. For this reason the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation has been formed by the scholars responsible for their publication in order to receive gifts and disburse funds to scholars and their assistants. Gifts have come from other foundations, companies, religious organizations,educational institutions, and individuals. The total cost of producing a volume is approximately $100,000. Funding for another fifteen volumes is needed.

Derived in part from http://www.hum.huji.ac.il/staff/fdss.htm


Silberman's The Hidden Scrolls: Christianity, Judaism, and the War for the Dead Sea Scrolls and Sussman and Peled's Scrolls from the Dead Sea, an Exhibition of Scrolls and Archeological Artifacts from the Collections of the Israel Antiquities Authority are good reads for the casually interested. Schiffman's Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, the History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran is probably the most definitive study to date about the significance of the Scrolls for the Jewish community. Ulrich's and VanderKam's The Community of the Renewed Covenant, The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls represents an example of state of the argument in scholarship.


Like An Annotated Law of Moses (text 71) and other examples of "rewritten Bible" among the scrolls, A Paraphrase of Genesis and Exodus interprets the Bible by retelling selected portions. The most interesting of the fragmentary remains concern the story of the "binding of Isaac," a theme that was richly developed in later Judaism and that continues to generate profound reflection to the Present day.

In the text before us, the story of the binding reads much like that of the Biblical Job: a man of transcendent righteousness undergoes sore testing because Satan (here called Mastemah) has received permission from God to bring trials upon him. The jobian parallels are, of course, absent from the passages in Genesis that recount the
tale of Isaac nearly being sacrificed upon God's command.

Yet the rationale for their introduction is compelling, for the biblical story does present a difficult problem: how could God command Abraham to sacrifice his own son? If God did not really intend Abraham to go through with, Was God being deceitful? Why would God act as described? Our author urges an interesting solution to the problem by introducing the figure of Mastemah and rooting the entire episode in evil that God merely countenances, but does not originate -- just as in Job.

Isaac is born and the Prince of Malevolence (Mastemah) conspires to destroy him (Gen. 21:1-3; 22:2-4).

And a son of lov[e] was born [to Abraha]m and he named him Isaac. Now the Prince of Malevolence (Mastemah) came [to G]od, and brought his animosity to bear against Abraham because of Isaac. And (G]od said [to Abra] ham, "Take your son, Isaac, [your] only one {...} [whom] You [love] and offer him up to [Me] as a burnt offering upon one of the [high] mountains [which I will point out] to you." So
he r[ose and we]n[t] from the wells [...] [...] And Ab[raham] lifted [his eyes and saw the place at a distance.]
The plot of the Prince Of Malevolence (Mastemah) is foiled because of Abraham's obedience (Gen. 22:7-12).
Col. 2 [Then] Isaac s[aid] to Abraham, "Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb] for the [bur]nt offering?" And Abraham said, "Go[d will supply a lamb for the burnt offering, my son,] for Himself." Isaac said to his father [...] In those days Holy angels were standing upon [the mountain (?) to bring up] his son from the earth. And the angels of ma[levolence... and they] were rejoicing and saying, "Now he shall perish and [...] he shall be found deceitful, and if not, shall he be found trustworthy?" [... And God said,] "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Yes!" And He said, "N[ow I know that you fear God." ...] you shall not be loving. Then he blessed the LORD [...] Jacob. And Jacob bore Levi [ ...] The days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Lev[i ... ] and the Prince of Malevolence (Mastemah). I shall turn aside[...] "Prince of Male[vo]lence (Mastemah)." And Belial heard [...]

translated by Martin Abegg, The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation, by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., Edward Cook. HaprerSanFrancisco. pp. 261-263

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