THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, 1947-1969 by Edmund Wilson

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, 1947-1969

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this revision of the story of the Dead Sea scrolls, with more than half new material, Wilson acts as a scholarly reporter, one who has visited the sites and talked with innumerable archaeologists, linguists, orientalists and Biblical authorities of all degrees of pious or impious persuasion. Since 1955 and his original book, new scrolls have come to light and older ones, in very precarious condition, have been read and published. Among them is an Aramaic version of Genesis with an account of the beauty of Sarah, a scroll containing 41 psalms (including 8 apocryphal compositions), and various fragments relating to the history and practices of the Essene sect. In addition there have been excavations at the site of the monastery presumed to be the source of the scrolls, and at Masada, the rock fortress where the Zealots made their last ditch stand against the Romans. Wilson discusses these finds from the point of view of the key scholars involved, dwelling at length on the theory that the teachings of Jesus and their elaboration into Christian doctrine may have come about through a gradual process of evolution within the Essene movement in which a principal leader, the Teacher of Righteousness, may have served as an earlier messianic model. Wilson reflects on how difficult it has been for scholars deeply confirmed in a particular orthodoxy to accept new ideas or sources. When compounded by the profound hostility, tension and frustration of life in the Middle East today it is no wonder that scholarship marches slowly and only someone of Wilson's caliber seems willing or able to take on the enormous task of explaining to the layman just what the acrimony and controversy is all about.
Pub Date: May 19th, 1969
ISBN: 0006270182
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1969




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