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Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians Hardcover – Feb 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Castle Books; Reprint edition (Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785818855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785818854
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.6 x 3.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,692,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

This work challenges the established interpretations of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the traditional views of the origins of Christianity. By the author of "The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered", this book goes back to Qumran on the Dead Sea for further exploration of Christianity's formative years. Included in the book are new translations of the Qumran documents, that until now have only been available to scholars, that present a more accurate view of the times. A picture of a nationalistic, xenophobic, militant Messianic Movement in Palestine during the first century AD is presented, which is very different from the current way Christianity is viewed. Archaeology, palaeography and carbon-14 dating are rigorously criticised, and in the process, the book challenges establishment conceptions and reveals startling information about the first Christians, the Righteous Teacher, and the apocalyptic documents of the time.

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About the Author

Robert Eisenman is a Professor of Middle East Religions and Chair, Religious Studies Department, California State University, Long Beach, USA

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jacques COULARDEAU on 8 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a collection of essays and as such they are old covering the 1983-1994 period with nine articles practically in chronological publishing order. This is the 2006 new edition of the 1996 first edition with apparently only one new thing, the new translation of The Habakkuk Pesher with no specification of the date and two old translations of excerpts of The Damascus Document and the Community Rule. This new edition gives us older articles that enable us to better assess Eisenman's more recent books like "James, the Brother of Jesus" and "The New testament Code."

The method is to be commended. First in his rejection of retrospective imposition which is a real plague in historical linguistics that does not descend time from older forms analyzed in themselves to the newer forms whose innovation is to be explained, but that ascends the time line imposing on the past forms the values the modern forms derived from the older ones have today. Eisenman works with the texts of the documents and meets that problem though he does not identify it linguistically.

In fact Eisenman encounters the same problematic in Qumran studies. Qumran documents are all analyzed via the later reconstruction, in this case the Pauline Christian reconstruction, of events and debates that took place within and around the Jewish religion and community essentially in the first century CE. The Pauline reconstruction negates that debate that shows Paul under a very negative angle within the Jewish community he is supposed to be a member of. Modern gospels endorse Paul's non-Jewish development of Christianity without clarifying what Paul rejected by doing that. The victor writes history and we have to deconstruct this retrospective imposition to understand the documents and the events behind the documents.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jun. 2000
Format: Hardcover
I went to this book after reading the popularized summary of it in the second part of "The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception" by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. I wanted to check out if Eisenmann's conclusions stand up in detail; although I was fairly convinced by the Baigent and Leigh summary, there were places where they didn't have space to justify some of the conclusions. Furthermore, the conclusions don't match with Barbara Thiering's writings, which are also convincing.
Boy, did I set myself a task! I spend weeks fighting my way through the text: it reads like a literal translation of an obscure 19th century German philosopher. Aweful: great long cicuitous sentences couched in idirect professorial language with infuriating paranthetical additions. And not much of a structure to the arguments. Doesn't the publisher have a style editor? Or is Eisenmann too stubborn to accept editing?
Finally I read Eisenmann's excellent translation of the Damascus document at the end. I thought "is that all there is to it?": the whole book centres around the interpretation of about 15 lines of the scrolls.
It's very clear that the "concensus view" of the dating of the scrolls to well before the gospel period is wrong: but either Eisenmann or Thiering could be right about the identity of the teacher of righteousness and his opponents. On the whole I came down on Eisenmann's side, which does not actually contradict the rest of Thiering's thesis.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Good Research 5 Oct. 2004
By J. Joyner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Eisenman takes a great interest in his work and the importance of getting the scrolls out to the public. Not sensational like the "Dead Sea Scrolls Deception" for it was the work on which the sensational book was written. As much as the Christian church would like to downplay these discoveries, there clearly existed a dichotomy in the New Testament between Paul and James. And only a mass interpolation by scholars could have covered the great difference between the Jewish-Christian and Gentile-Christian doctrinal issues. Good job Robert!
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Classics of Dead Sea Studies 23 Jun. 2008
By David Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Included in this volume are Professor Eisenman's two ground-breaking works, "Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians and Qumran" and "James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher," which were first published in the mid-1980's, but were not previously widely available. These classics are a foundation piece of his research on the Dead Sea Scrolls and fascinating for the beginner and scholar alike. Most importantly, these works triggered the debate over the relationship of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Christian Origins, which ultimately led to the freeing of the Scrolls in the early 1990's a struggle in which Eisenman played a pivotal role. Also included are previously unpublished papers and essays written by Eisenman and presented at international conferences over the last decade. In addition, this volume provides new translations of three key Qumran documents, "The Habbakkuk Pesher," "The Damascus Document," and "The Community Rule," available previously in the sometimes inaccurate and often inconsistent renderings by consensus scholars, missing the electric brilliance of the writers of the Scrolls.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Treasure from a cave 29 Aug. 2010
By Daniel G. Schaeffer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An underground classic -- and, at least indirectly, the only "Historical Jesus" book you may ever really need. A series of essays that are definitely academic, and perhaps rather abstruse for the layman; and any reader, lay or not, will have to go through Eisenman's muscle-bound prose line by line, with pencil in hand. In "James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher" he shows, using multiple sources, by the process of elimination, that James, "the brother of Jesus," was ALMOST certainly the "Teacher of Righteousness" in the DSS -- which of course means that they're the first "Christian" scriptures, and contain nothing about miracles, parables, etc. As might have been expected, the "consensus scholars" have tried to pick holes in his argument, and without much success, in this layman's opinion, among other reasons because they apparently can't recognize that they're implicitly taking the side of Paul in the James-Paul dispute -- and Eisenman demonstrates, in the essay "Paul as Herodian," was ABSOLUTELY certainly a Pharisee in the nastiest sense, probably a Roman spy, and the PERFECT candidate for "The Spouter of Lies."
After reading this essay, by the way, I was moved to re-read the Pauline material, and was stunned to note such details as the bizarre end to Romans, the near-paranoid tantrum in the second half of Galatians, and the apparently-intentional Monty Python-esque multilayered humor hidden in plain sight in the "Trial of Paul" scene in Acts -- one can envision John Cleese, as Herod, strutting around and pontificating, while Eric Idle, at his oily best ("Nudge, nudge! Say no more!") exlaims that he does not lie as he preaches the risen Christ, and Terry Jones and Michael Palin, as "The Jews," sharpen their sicarii while making grotesque faces.
They don't tell you about this in church.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Greatest True Story ever told. 13 Mar. 2013
By Sahansdal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Robert Eisenman has brought the truth of the origins of Christianity to the world. We only now know of this true story because of the discovery of the the Dead Sea Scrolls and the equally amazing find of the Nag Hammadi Library and the phenomenally amazing Gospel of Judas. In Eisenman's book The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians: Essays and Translations, a collection of earlier papers he wrote on the scrolls discovery and interpretation, he dissects with the consummate skill of the professional that he is, the sectarian scrolls Pesherim (biblical commentarires) -- primarily the Damascus Document, the Community Rule, and the Habakkuk Pesher -- to reveal the real meaning of these time-capsule discoveries. The world is about to change course, forever, and it is about time. The deception that is the New Testament is exposed for what it truly is: a monumentally successful rewriting of first century history for the purpose of presenting an antisSemitic and orthodox slant on the real events of the time of "Christ". "Christ" is in quotes because the character we have before us in substantive portrayal is JAMES THE JUST, not Jesus Christ. James was the leader of the Jerusalem Assembly through the middle decades of Roman Palestine, and has been purposefully written out of his historical role by the New Testament gospel authors. The character of Jesus is absent from the scrolls themselves, bringing up a real question about his actual existence, if he was as important in his time as orthodox Christians would have us believe. One has to remember, the Scrolls were recently unearthed in pristine original compositional condition. The biblical books have had to endure centuries of tinkering and don't enjoy the same certainty of provenance as the Scrolls do. The Scrolls, bringing forth the wealth of information that they contain about the real Paul of Tarsus and what his movement was really up to leaves us with an important judgment to make. Is it really true that all this time the Christian religion which has shaped two millenia of history is only a fraud based on the wild imagination of a pretend expert on Jesus Christ, and pseudo-Pharisee -- Paul -- and a group of anonymous writers of Hellenized mystery-religion fantasy? This is exactly the unfortunate (for Christianity) picture painted by the Dead Sea Scrolls. In contrast to the scholarly elite's take on them, the Dead Sea Scrolls have ENORMOUS implications for the viability of the greatest religion the world has ever known. It is this writer's considered judgment, after reading everything Dr. Eisenman has written (to date, March, 2013) and having met him personally and spent a fascinating time talking with him about it, that what we have in this corpus of work is nothing less than the greatest revelation in the history of MANKIND. That means the greatest revelation in history FOREVER, not just until now.

What the Dead Seas Scrolls have revealed is that the New Testament is a cleverly conceived collection of writings created by some of the most skillful creators of fiction in the history of literature. As Eisenman puts it, in James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls "Once James has been rescued from the oblivion into which he was cast, abetted by one of the most successful rewrite enterprises ever accomplished -- the Book of Acts (and one of the most fantastic) -- it is necessary to deal with the new constellation of facts the reality of his being occasions. It will no longer be possible, through endless scholarly debate and other evasion syndromes, the obvious solution to the problem of the historical Jesus -- the the question of his actual physical existence aside -- the answer to which is simple, Who and whatever James was, so was Jesus." That is the concluding line of this, Eisenman's seminal work on James which immediately followed on this present work, and forever changed the landscape of biblical criticism. These two books, together with The New Testament Code: The Cup of the Lord, the Damascus Covenant, and the Blood of Christ form the 2,500 page trilogy which is a must-read for anyone wanting to know the real story of Jesus and James.

The book is in three parts, Part One is a revising of "Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians, and Qumran: a New Hypothesis of Qumran Origins" a monograph of Eisenman's that was first published in 1983 and then became mired in the controversy that swirled around the release of the scrolls from the Ecole' Biblique, the Vatican affiliated group of scholars that had been hoarding the scrolls and delaying their release since the 50's. In this paper, Eisenman presents the framework of his new thesis on Qumran origins, and 'sitz im leben', or place in the scheme of things. The main characters, The Righteous Teacher, and the Spouter of Lying, and the Wicked Priest are introduced and identified as James (tentatively), Paul and High Priest Ananus, who convicted James in an illegally conceived Sanhedrin (Jewish Court) trial, in absence of Roman authority (Albinus was yet enroute from Rome, replacing Festus who had just died). The "unremittingly xenophobic, nationalistic, and apocalyptic attitude on the part of the Qumran Community that the author [Eisenman] has been particularly identified with having brought to light" is presented. The Qumran concepts of loving God ('Hesed') and loving one's neighbor ('Zedek') are introduced as commandments of the Righteous Teacher. Eisenman then begins weaving his amazing linkage of these people to the New Testament followers of James and Peter, the "Poor" or "Ebionite" Keepers of the Covenant in the "Land of Damascus". A furthering of the linkage between Qumran and Pauline in "James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher", a second treatise presented three years later than "MZCQ". Eisenman further develops the correct interpretation of the sectarian scrolls from the internal data, and shows their proper setting in contrast to the scholarly accepted position of them as Maccabean-era by compromised and inconclusive carbon dating and paleographic analysis. In Part Two the working method of the New testament gospel authors in reversing and inverting the true teachings of the Jamesian Jerusalem and Qumran Community leaders is presented for the first time to the wider public. A plethora of details makes a solid case for the premise of the work that the teaching of James is marginalized in biblical parallel inversions of Pauline faith-only reformulations of works-salvation of the Jamesians.

Part Three is a new translation of the three important works of the Qumran sectarian works, the Damascus Document, the Community Rule and the Habakkuk Pesher. The penetrating insight Eisenman is famous for is in full display in these important new translation versions, and justify presenting him as the premier world authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, in opposition to some other researchers, like Dr. Geza Vermes, who don't quite get some of the crucial passages right (as seen in footnotes to the text). Copiously footnoted and documented, this is the definitive work to date on these all-important Jamesian compositions, and form the bedrock of our new understanding of the community of persecuted "zealot" misfits who left Jerusalem under duress in the tumultuous years leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple. James and Paul are forever linked now in a battle of titans for the imagination of a world that must now choose between them for the final reckoning of what really was the history of the "Christ" story: an orthodox masterpiece of revisionist fantasy built upon mystery-religion accommodation to the powers-that-be -- or a separationist movement of deeply spiritual gnostics, who left the world a time-machine corpus of the utmost value to ponder over in an archaeological stroke of stupendous good fortune and serendipity.

When combined with a study of the Nag Hammadi corpus and the Gospel of Judas (conducted by the author of this review and published elsewhere), a picture of the full scope of the deception of the New Testament becomes irresistible. The scholarly community must be put on notice that we now have the real champion of the truth in Dr. Robert Eisenman and we want to be told no more lies or partial truths about the New Testament message. The "man" in the "sacrifice of the man that bears me" in the Gospel of Judas climax is JAMES, overwritten as "Judas", and "the Betrayal of Jesus" scenario in the gospel portrait of Jesus and Judas is pure fiction, a cover for the succession of Jesus by James as full Master and initiating SAVIOR as revealed from findings in all the available sources of the time and an analysis of modern Sant Mat ("Teachings of the Saints"). The "bread" in the Betrayal scene is given to JAMES -- not 'Judas' -- in the Gospel According to the Hebrews, the 'kiss' of spiritual transfer is given Jesus by JAMES -- not 'Judas' -- in the First and Second Apocalypses of James in the gnostic corpus from Nag Hammadi, and it is JAMES who "greatly supplants" Jesus -- not 'Judas' attacking Jesus -- in the Psalm 41:9 scripture reference (idiomatic Douay Rheims Bible translation) in John 13:18, mistranslated to hide the real subject of the episode, which is the selection of the replacement for Jesus which should naturally be called for at this point in the gospel story, and is missing. This is detailed elsewhere in the gospels in Eisenman's other works as the overwritten 'election' of 'Matthias' in Acts 1. Details for all this can be found in Eisenman's and this author's published works. The time is NOW for the full truth to be told about the living Masters of Sant Mat, of whom James was one. Thanks be to Dr. Eisenman for opening the door which we only have now to walk through to a full and glorious understanding of the true teachings of God.

-- Robert Wahler
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant Historian Writes About the Creation of Christianity 4 Aug. 2007
By Victor Galindo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book in excellent condition.
Eisenman and Allegro, while not in full agreement, are obviously on the right track. Christianity is known to have begun in Israel by Jews. It is well known by those scholars who are not biased that early Christianity was boxed in by Jews and Rome. They chose Rome. And so anything resembling what Jesus (or what ever the title represents) preached died completely around 325 CE when Rome adopted it. I know Eisenman personally. His analysis is without doubt largely correct.
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