WHO WROTE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS? by Norman Golb

WHO WROTE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS?

The Search for the Secret of Qumran

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The freshest, most elegantly written of the new books about the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls (see Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 1107, The Hidden Scrolls, p. 1108). In this very thorough study, Golb (Jewish History and Civilization/Univ. of Chicago) surveys earlier scholarship on the topic and finds it wanting. Almost all of the individuals and groups who have devoted themselves to piecing together and deciphering the scrolls and fragments found between 1947 and 1955 have believed they were written by scribes of the Essene community who lived in the ``monastery'' of Qumran not far from the shores of the Dead Sea. In 1980 Golb advanced his own explanation of the scrolls' origins: Qumran was not a monastery but a fortress, he argued, and the scrolls represent the remnants of the libraries of Jerusalem's various Jewish sects, who, in order to preserve their manuscripts from the Roman conquerors in the first century a.d., hid these religious and literary treasures in the Dead Sea area. Backing up his assertions here, Golb makes accessible some very technical material, demystifying the process of manuscript discovery, reconstruction, and decipherment. While many of his academic adversaries have depicted him as an upstart and a professional gadfly, he emerges from this volume as a reasoned, impassioned advocate of a more likely scenario for the concealment of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He doesn't spring his solution on us suddenly; he includes the reader in the process by which someone who has been involved in scroll research for the better part of his life, who once accepted the ``Qumran Hypothesis,'' began to see problems with it in the early '70s and eventually developed a compelling alternative. While detailing that process, Golb also chronicles the battles for control of the scrolls' possession and publication, a story that has been told before, though not in such exhaustive detail. The legions of scroll aficionados around the world can now read of conflicts both ancient and modern in a lively and informative new book. (Book-of-the-Month/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selections; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-02-544395-X
Page count: 430pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994




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