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The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition [Paperback]

Geza Vermes
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Jun 2004

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 manuscripts appear to have been hidden in the caves at Quumran by members of the Essene community, a Jewish sect in existence before and during the time of Jesus. Some sixty years after the Scrolls' first discovery, this revised and much expanded edition of The Dead Sea Scrolls in English crowns a lifetime of research by the great Qumran scholar Geza Vermes.

As well as superb translations of all non-biblical texts sufficiently well preserved to be rendered into English, there are also a number of previously unpublished texts, and a new preface.

Since its first publication in 1962, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English has established itself as the standard English translation of the non-Biblical Qumran Scrolls and as giving an astonishing insight to the organization, customs, history and beliefs of the community responsible for them. This edition will contain new material, together with extensive new introductory material and notes.

Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (24 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449525
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Excellent, up-to-date... will enable the general public to read the non- biblical scrolls and to judge for themselves their importance. ("The New York Times Book Review")

About the Author

Geza Vermes was born in Hungary in 1924. He studied in Budapest and Louvain. He was the first Professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford. His other books published by Penguin are The Changing Faces of Jesus and The Authentic Gospel of Jesus.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On the western shore of the Dead Sea, about eight miles south of Jericho, lies a complex of ruins known as Khirbet Qumran. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
315 of 330 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the first time in 2000 years... 28 Sep 2003
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Geza Vermes' book, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, is a worthy capstone to a long and distinguished scroll career. Vermes entire career, from his student days to this present work, has been concentrated largely on the Dead Sea Scrolls and related topics. His doctorate in 1953 was completed with a dissertation on the historical framework of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is difficult to find any scholar with as complete a knowledge of the scrolls as has Vermes; it is impossible to find one who knows them better.
This book was released in 1997, 50 years from the time the first Arab shepherd climbed into a cave in search of a wandering animal and instead fell upon the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Following the 'revolution' of 1991 (to use Vermes words), everyone interested could have unfettered access to the Scrolls, and yet, as inaccessible as they had been previously due to physical restriction, they remained just as inaccessible due to the problem of language and translation.
'In addition to the English rendering of the Hebrew and Aramaic texts found in the eleven Qumran caves, two inscribed potsherds (ostraca) retrieved from the Qumran site and two Qumran-type documents discovered in the fortress of Masada, and brief introductory notes to each text, this volume also provides an up-to-date general introduction, outlining the history of fifty years of Scroll research and sketching the organisation, history and religious message of the Qumran Community.'
This is the latest volume of a series: when Vermes first published an edition in 1962 (then 15 years after the discovery of the first scrolls), the book had 262 pages; the current edition has 648.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
It was difficult to decide how many stars to give this volume. It's certainly more than OK, but I cannot say that I love it. It's not a book for the unwary and I don't think I would choose to re-read it in the foreseeable let alone the distant future. It is not an easy book to read. It is scholarly, and is a book of sources. Who reads sources for pleasure, apart from academics and those with a point to make? But it is invaluable nevertheless; but there is no `story'.

Most people have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is often an air of excitement whenever they are discussed in television programmes about Jesus and the times in which he lived, about the origins of Christianity. By their very nature, they are a prime resource in understanding the mindset of some of those occupying Palestine at this time. But it is the nature of this `some' that has proved problematical. How important were these people whose writings were left in the isolated caves of Qumran?

I approached `The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English' after having read a number of years ago some books by Robert Eisenman, so I had a bit of an inkling about what to expect, and whilst reading this volume I would make some comparisons between Eisenman's and interpretations and those of renowned Biblical scholar Geza Vermes, who has edited this volume. It is clear that there are still great scholarly arguments over these scrolls. Robin Lane Fox has written how "textual diversity reigned" at Qumran, and that diversity has on occasion fuelled the fires of quite virulent invective between academics.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars detailed read 7 July 2009
This is a very detailed book starting with a long history of the translation process, before purchasing this a lay-person should ensure that they know what they are after whether they want biblical or non-biblical scrolls and that they are not confusing these scrolls with the nag hammadi ones
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It goes into a lot of detail about the texts and the community itself in the introduction to the book, before it gets into the actual texts themselves, which is the main reason benefit I have derived from the book so far.

The texts themselves offer us an invaluable verification that the Bible has indeed been preserved for us through the centuries. One example is found on page 15 for example where Vermes says "Before 1947 the oldest Hebrew text of the whole of Isaiah was the Ben Asher codex from Cairo dated to 895 CE, as against the complete Isaiah scroll found at cave I, which is about a millennium older."

It's a Penguin Classic and quite a hefty tome. It does leave out the Biblical texts themselves, as they are obviously very well known, and very accessible and therefore of less interest to the general reader, though they can be found in a separate publication available here:

The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time Into English

It's got a generous bibliography at the back too, which gives me the access I was looking for to decent works related to the Essenes theological, eschatological, religious and practical points of view, rather than the New Age tripe I was finding on Amazon's search engine.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely misleading title- nevertheless, expertly presented
Do not imagine you buy this one book and you buy the complete collection of the Dead Sea Scroll texts, all translated into English. Penguin have been a bit liberal with its title. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Openhearts
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay
Somehow it wasn't quite what I expected but that'smy problem. The Dead Sea scrolls are exactly what they say and show exactly what has been retained.
Published 13 months ago by Mrs M S Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars jolemor
These originals are quite the best translations of the scrolls. They are especially valuable as Geza Vermes has recently died.
Published 14 months ago by Mr. J. L. Morgan
2.0 out of 5 stars Academics only
If you're interested in biblical studies, especially from the point of view of Jesus, then you'll be as disappointed with this book as I was. Read more
Published 23 months ago by C. G. Fewtrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good.
This translation got me through my DSS module. Vermes' ideas about the texts are clear and very insightful; this translation provides an excellent base for study of the DSS and I... Read more
Published on 30 April 2012 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars dead sea scrolls
ordered as a review as mentioned in other book(s) to study whats they have found.
Published on 2 Jun 2010 by Joep De Fraiture
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone who needs to know more
This is a really good edition of the complete Dead Sea Scrolls. I particularly like the type face use which is clear and easy to read.
Published on 23 Dec 2008 by Birmingham Book Reader
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