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John Marco Allegro: The Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls & Related Literature) Paperback – 1 Mar 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802863337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802863331
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,579,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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explains the issues he tangled with, and introduces many of the individuals whose lives he infected with his extraordinary enthusiasm’ -- Philip R Davies, University of Sheffield

‘This biography should … interest anyone intrigued by the Dead Sea Scrolls and the history of scholarship on them.’ -- James C Vanderkam, University of Notre Dame

‘…a richly informative and candid overview of John Allegro’s life and thought.’ -- George J Brooke, University of Manchester --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

I’m John Allegro’s daughter, and I have written this book so that people may give my father a fairer hearing than he received in his lifetime.

His early work on the Scrolls met plenty of acclaim. His first book, The Dead Sea Scrolls, published by Penguin in 1956, was an immediate bestseller, and he was much in demand for talks and broadcasts. His students at the University of Manchester found him an inspiring lecturer and people clamoured to join his archaeological expeditions. Despite, or partly because of, the disagreement with his colleagues, he remained at the centre of public discussion over the Scrolls throughout the 1960s. In Jordan he was made Honorary Adviser on the Scrolls to the Government.

However, in academic circles the differences of opinion and approach. John Allegro was accused – wrongly – of deliberately pre-empting the official press release and then the official translation of the Copper Scroll, and the accusations have been perpetuated. From 1956 on, distrust deepened on both sides. For this book, I have drawn on Allegro’s personal letters and notes, most of them previously unpublished, to show exactly what was going on at the time and how the situation appeared to the person at the centre of it all.

Scholars can evaluate his textual work better than I can. The extent and depth of his work on the Scrolls has taken a good deal of criticism, some of it fair. But some of it has been unfair, and based on assumptions he did not share about keeping the Scrolls away from public scrutiny until the work was complete. He has been criticized for not following the party line, when in conscience he could not agree with it.

On The Sacred Mushroom, one would need to be a scholar of Sumerian to assess John Allegro’s work dispassionately. In 1970, many of the word-links he made were speculative, based on insufficient records. Thirty-five years on, more evidence is available and Allegro’s suggestions may repay further study. Other information has accrued about the fertility religions and mushroom-based drug cults of the ancient world, but language-based links have yet to be independently substantiated. What John Allegro would have hoped for would be further research into the origins of language, religion and recorded thought in generarl; his philological work was just beginning to point the way.

Many people have helped bring this book into print. Most of all I must thank my mother Joan Allegro, who stood by John through good times and bad, and who has shared her letters and memories with me. So the book is also for her, in the hope that it may cast a clearer light on his life and work. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
John Marco Allegro was born on February 17, 1923, at Balham in South London, to Mabel Jessie and John Marco Allegro Sr. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Allegro's daughter has written an enthralling book honouring her father and his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls and elsewhere. His victimisation by the religious establishment, academics and the press served to stifle speculation on the meaning of the scrolls and the true meaning of the religious doctrines that many still believe in today.
The debate about the scrolls and entheogenic mushrooms continues and this is vital background history on how the religious and academic establishments react when under threat or questioned.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
The Allegro legacy of controversy lives on! 17 Jun 2005
By J Irvin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
John Marco Allegro - The Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls
- By Judith Anne Brown -daughter of John Allegro.

John Marco Allegro is hereby vindicated! Scholars of the world beware!

Judith Anne Brown has inherited the same writing style, razor sharp wit, and knack for forcing people to think, as well as for stirring trouble and controversy that her father had.

Judith takes us through a riveting and fascinating glimpse at the life of John Marco Allegro. From John's youth as the son of an immigrant family, to his beginnings in the British Navy, to starting his studies as a Methodist minister. While studying for the ministry, she shows his personal, detailed letters that start him questioning the authority of Biblical teachings; to finally leaving the ministry to begin his studies at Manchester, and then Oxford, making him noticed as an up and coming biblical and language expert and Dead Sea Scrolls authority. Then finally on to his discovery that Christianity and religion is primarily based on entheogen (drug) use and star/sun worship.

Judy takes the reader through the times of laughs and the times of tears and turmoil.
She provides an outline of John's personal history, his family, his life as a playboy, the falling apart of his marriage, to the inner turmoil and outrage he had that no one would look at his views open mindedly and seriously, because they challenged the orthodox.

She provides and excellent breakdown of the content of each of his books, screen writes, and personal letters; proving John's side of the story. Judith gives the reader interesting and easy to follow story line, with a deep understanding into the most controversial of topics in recent decades.

This book contains a beautiful collection of previously unpublished photographs of John, the family, and the Middle East during his expeditions.

If this book wasn't written about John, I would have forgotten that I wasn't reading John's own work. Judy certainly has the Allegro ability to stir controversy--only this time people will have to pay attention. She has thoroughly debunked the 30 years of attacks, lies, and rumors that had spread over the years against John.

At times the book may move you to tears while reading about his personal struggles and the emotions over the blanketed attacks stirred regarding his unorthodox approach at religious scholarship and finally to his sudden death, on his birthday, on Feb. 17, 1988-and continuing legacy today.

Judith Brown has provided substantiation for Allegro's views, and debunked those empty attacks on his integrity and scholarship. Any intelligent and open-minded scholar will hereby be forced into reconsidering many of John's views...and for that matter, Judith's own views.

This book provides an absolutely solid foundation for future work to begin building on John Marco Allegro's ideas--an excellent foundation for up and coming publications by her and other scholars and authors.

The Allegro legacy of controversy lives on!

A better than 5 star rating.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
john marco allegro by judith brown 21 Oct 2007
By Dr. Martin Staller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Obviously, a favorable review of her father who was much maligned for presenting a novel
explaination for the origins of myth and religion, specifically the Christian
faith. He has never been seriously challanged by authentic philologists,
only by religious zealots and others who are convinced the Earth is flat.
Her portrait of a driven, ambitious and wounded man is full and warm and shows
much love of the man and his ideas, who opened the world to the hidden
exegeses by biblical scholars too frigtened to make known to a deluded public
what the Chuches and their minions were doing to them and the 'civilized'
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Allegro's Daughter Puts Forth a Clear History of His Work 13 Jun 2009
By Josiah Poppler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Judith Anne Brown's John Marco Allegro: The Maverick Of The Dead Sea Scrolls is an essential addendum to her father's important work. John Allegro was severely maligned after his publication of The Sacred Mushroom and the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1970. An unfounded response to his book from the religious and academic community at the time prejudged and condemned him unfairly. His work translating the scrolls found at Qumran, where the ancient Hebrew Bible literature was discovered by local sheep herders in the late 1940s, was the most scientific method undertaken by the international team. His non secular education, including extensive study at Oxford prior to going to Israel, provided an objective approach comparing the literature in the scrolls with derivations of words as they had evolved in the region. As Ms. Brown points out, John Allegro placed an asterisk next to each Sumerian word root theory not found in earlier extant literature. He was clear headed about his etymological projections, he was not propagating the intrigue of psychotropic fungus culture. Because of the latent fear of the subject ingrained in the myco-phobic consciousness learned by the present Angelo-European and other peoples, the readers of the world have been set astray of Allegro's work in etymology. Her book has somewhat redeemed his academic integrity, though too late and too unnoticed to have not lost his scientific work into the annals of ignorance.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The world is finally almost ready 4 May 2011
By Mutton Man - Published on
Format: Paperback
I just want to express how much the world owes a debt of gratitude to Judith Anne Brown for writing this touching and informative biography of her father, John M. Allegro, and thus setting the record straight regarding the role he played with the Scrolls and in history.

Before I proceed let me apologize in that this writing is not actually a proper review of the book, but an emotional expression of relief caused by this book's mere existence.

As a free-thinking individual who is neither for nor against organized religion, I was always and will always be interested in the origins of humanity's spiritual belief systems and ideologies, its temporal authorities and institutions, and the way in which these forces come together to form 'civilization.' It surprises me how ignorant some people are about the context within which their chosen or inherited faith originated, and I've always thought it important to question established doctrines and particularly rituals, lest they become mindless and mechanical. It still boggles my mind how in the 21st century we are still struggling to reconcile faith with daily living, and how so many conflicts can result from a perceived clash of ideologies that in reality share so much in common.

Allegro thought this way over half a century ago when knowledge of ancient history was still not easily accessed by the laity. Allegro was therefore a pioneer thinker whose dedicated work and scholarship helped to propel us forward in our understanding of the nature and origins of Semitic or monotheistic religious traditions, and their relationship to other belief systems that had existed worldwide over thousands of years. The notion that Islam, Judaism and Christianity are not as unique or exclusive as some choose to believe should not threaten or undermine these great faiths; in fact, their claims to 'universality' should be bolstered.

At first glance, Allegro seems to have been born in the wrong time, as he encountered so much opposition regarding his open-minded views towards religion from individuals with vested interests and entrenched understandings. Nevertheless Allegro played a brilliant role in history, serving as a catalyst that continues to this day for public debate about Christianity's origins; this debate has far-reaching implications for all Semitic religions, especially insofar as they have shaped the world over two thousand years and culminated in the current stand-off between the so-called West and the Islamic world; 'Us' and 'Them' in the Jungian sense. Perhaps people who are affected by these great religions will come to understand that in this context there really is no Us or Them; that, in fact, Islam, Judaism and Christianity are all branches of the same tree, and not so far removed from other great world religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and even - dare I say it - various 'pagan' traditions.

Allegro has authored many books conveying this kind of thought but he, of course, does it far better than anyone in my mind. A master of language, Allegro can articulate with the written word what we so often wish we could express ourselves. A master of philology, Allegro had the tools to fathom what most would overlook: the core significance of language and the written word; namely etymology, which contains the keys to understanding religious thought and development. Speech and later writing were early on perceived as divinely manifested abilities. The very fact that humans ever learned to speak and write was considered inherently sublime in itself, and when one comes to understand this, one is ready to read volumes like "The Scared Mushroom and the Cross" (1970) without becoming perplexed by it, as was the case with Allegro's peers.

Brown's book simply sheds light on Allegro's character and scholarship, putting the 'mystery' surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls into context and giving us another chance to bring his work to light after it was so tragically misunderstood, suppressed and wrongfully slandered. The Dead Sea Scrolls' discovery did indeed have mass implications for Christianity, but the Scrolls did not contain anything that directly threatened to shake the very foundation of the Church; like anything that unrightfully attempts to contravene the natural order of things, the Church, in overreacting to proponents of religious debate, shook its own foundation and unwittingly vindicated Allegro's just cause.

Sooner or later the truth will out; and, in my opinion, those who attempt to prevent this are simply lacking in faith. Now that a credible and balanced account of John M. Allegro and his legacy has been published, I sincerely hope readers will demand that his books be re-issued, so that Allegro's wonderful thoughts and insights can be more readily available to those who share with him a desire to better understand their religions' origins.
Mysterious maverick 27 Mar 2014
By Richard E. Hayes - Published on
Verified Purchase
I've read two of Allegro's books, and this bio by his daughter. If you enjoy an intellectual mystery or puzzle, try to figure out if Allegro was a great scholar, who broke ground in religious studies, or a bright man who went off the rails. I can't decide.
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