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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The battle for the scrolls...
This book, written in the early 1990s, had much more punch when it was first written. The Dead Sea Scrolls were still essentially under lock-and-key, accessible as a whole only to a few selected scholars who were selected by unclear and seemingly biased methods - that bias often being misconstrued as the dictates of the Roman Catholic Church. History has proven something...
Published on 26 Jun 2004 by Kurt Messick

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dishonest?
"for these documents disclose nothing less than a new account of the origins of Christianity and an alternative and highly significant version of the New Testament."

That's an interesting claim - because the Dead Sea Scrolls do not contain ANY New Testament documents, except possibly one small fragment which some think is from Mark's Gospel. The Scrolls are...
Published on 13 Oct 2011 by Julian JJ


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dishonest?, 13 Oct 2011
By 
Julian JJ (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
"for these documents disclose nothing less than a new account of the origins of Christianity and an alternative and highly significant version of the New Testament."

That's an interesting claim - because the Dead Sea Scrolls do not contain ANY New Testament documents, except possibly one small fragment which some think is from Mark's Gospel. The Scrolls are earlier, i.e. a pre-NT collection.

If a person on the street makes such an inaccurate claim, it could perhaps be overlooked. If someone writes such a claim in a book, which they should have researched properly, then surely they are either very foolish or very dishonest - and certainly very irresponsible.
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The battle for the scrolls..., 26 Jun 2004
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
This book, written in the early 1990s, had much more punch when it was first written. The Dead Sea Scrolls were still essentially under lock-and-key, accessible as a whole only to a few selected scholars who were selected by unclear and seemingly biased methods - that bias often being misconstrued as the dictates of the Roman Catholic Church. History has proven something rather different going on, but reading this book is still a good study of what can happen in even the most banal and esoteric of endeavours when secrecy and restricted access to information is the norm.
The Dead Sea Scrolls is a name given to a general collection of scrolls found in the area of Qumran, in the desert near the Dead Sea in the West Bank of the Jordan River. The first scrolls from this region were found in 1947/48. Many more scrolls have been found since then (and there may be some still missing, or hidden, by various regional authorities and antiquities dealers and collectors), including some in areas as far away as the British Museum (manuscripts collected from a Cairo genizah 50 years earlier were later found to match the scrolls).
Part of the politics of around the scrolls, which always featured into their saga, was that, while they were primary early Jewish texts (the Hebrew Bible, additional psalms, community writings of early sects of Judaism, etc.), the scrolls were found in what was then Arab territory by Arab traders and bedouins. The fragile state of Israeli/Palestinian/Jordanian politics always factored into the scrolls' fate; the scrolls came under control first of the Orthodox (Christian) leaders in East Jerusalem (then in Arab control), then later as scholars were sought under general Western academic supervision. It just so happened that many of the noted scholars in ancient Hebrew manuscripts (apart from Jewish scholars, who were prevented from participating) came from the ranks of the churches and seminaries, particularly the Roman Catholic Church.
This is where the seeds of mistrust and division were sown. For decades, the scrolls had to be reconstructed, as many of them were in fragmentary condition. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing, the pieces had to be reassembled as best they could be. This takes much longer than one might think - in the pre-computer days, without electronic assistance for cataloguing and matching, things had to be done manually, with cards, files, and photographs. It is true that many of the larger, in-tact scrolls were published early. But as time dragged on, it seemed somewhat as if there was a deliberate with-holding of information.
Baigent and Leigh trace the history of the scrolls and the history of the ideas of deception and restriction around the scrolls. Unfortunately, the issues are a bit overblown at times, to make the book more sensational. The feeling of 'they're hiding something' was certainly very real, and scholars, church leaders and the general public were clamouring for more access to the scrolls, if only to prove that there was not something vastly damaging to the church being hidden. Ideas were floated wildly speculating that there were writings that showed Jesus was never crucified, or somehow didn't die, that he had children and they continued a 'royal' line (it doesn't hurt to remember here that Baigent and Leigh co-authored the book, 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail', that attempted to trace the origins of the legends of the Holy Grail to the descendents of Jesus and his family). The idea was also given that the Roman Catholic scholars, at the instruction of the Vatican, were suppressing these damaging writings. This of course leaves aside the fact that there were non-catholics as part of the International Team, but that became problematic in and of itself, as the one avowed atheist, John Allegro, published scroll findings for which his published later had to issue retractions and apologies.
After the 1967 war, Jewish scholars gained access on a more equal footing with the European (mostly Christian) academics, but the general access was still restricted. Conspiracy theories grew.
Alas, history is sometimes far more mundane than one might hope - it wasn't vast conspiracies of keeping damaging texts hidden that was driving the restricted access, but largely academic politics and careerism of a rather common stamp (despite the fact that they were working with world-famous materials). When it became apparent that particular scholars (who were, along the way, assigned and given 'authority' over particular sub-sets of the scrolls) were keeping access so as to have first publication rights, and were treating these assignments as personal goods to be passed along to successors of their own choosing, this is when things really came to a head.
Complete copies of the scrolls had been made and deposited in other places around the world (given the general insecurity of the Middle East, which meant that a war could destroy them quite easily), but stringent security measures guarding access to these copies were put in place, and rigourous controls over who could use them meant that the scrolls were still hidden. However, the computer age made assembling large compendia of data fairly easy - such cataloguing of scrolls and scroll-bits was available, along with word and letter studies, and computers made it a task of weeks rather than decades to reconstruct the entire set of the scrolls. Once this was done, and then distributed (without permission), while the scroll team kicked up a fuss, the genie was out of the bottle, and the Huntington Library in California, one of the depositories of the copies, made them generally available. It is now more than 10 years after the scrolls have been freed, so some material is a little out of date.
Baigent and Leigh's work here gives the most sensational of conspiratorial leanings, while eventually coming down to the mundane side of things. They add an overview of the scrolls' content and interpretations, too, making this interesting both from the standpoint of the scrolls as well as history of the scroll battle.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sensationalist and now out-of-date, 28 July 2005
This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
An entertaining but sensationalised book which contains some fascinating reinterpretations of history. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered from 1947 onwards in caves in cliffs at Qumran, which used to be called Damascus (not the one in Syria). Since then (the book claims) the scrolls have been jealously guarded by a group of Catholics who got possession and control of them, and only fragments have been published with a distorted Catholic interpretation.
The scrolls are the records of Jewish zealots living around the time of Christ. Zealots believed passionately in three things:
1 - The Law of Moses.
2 - A line of high priest messiahs (the word means "anointed ones" - their priests as well as their kings were anointed) descended from Zadok.
3 - A royal line of messiah (anointed) kings descended from Solomon and David.
The zealots hated foreigners and anyone who did not uphold the Law. This of course included the occupying Romans (who believed their emperor was God) and their puppet-kings of the Herod dynasty, and Herod's puppet high priest in the Temple (called by the scrolls "the wicked priest") Ananas.
Groups of zealots lived all over Palestine and were variously called Zadokites, Zealots, Sicarii, Essenes and Nazorenes. This word comes from "Nozrei ha-Brit": "keepers of the Covenant" which gave "Nozrim": a sect later known as Christians. Jesus was a Nazorene; he did not come from Nazareth, which did not exist at the time. The zealots were militant revolutionaries organising resistance to the Romans and their puppets.
Jesus's brother James is called by the scrolls the "teacher of righteousness". He lived in Jerusalem and was the zealot leader.
Paul is called by the scrolls "the liar". Originally a Roman collaborator, he was converted on the road to Damascus (Qumran, not the one in Syria) and joined the zealots. But he was not so keen on upholding the Law. He wanted to start a new religion, and gain many adherents by relaxing the rules. He was an advertising man at heart, and distorted the story of Jesus's life for popular appeal. It was Paul who said that Jesus was divine, and invented many of the miracles and the virgin birth. He was a thorn in the side of James and the strict zealots, and they packed him off on missions around the world. He is the hero of the Acts of the Apostles, which is written from his point of view, and is the basis for modern Christianity. The scrolls, however, show that Jesus was not the meek and mild, mythologized son of God, but a politically active teacher who strongly upheld the Law and the Prophets.
Paul was possibly a Roman agent. He hijacked Judaism and turned it into a religion Jews could no longer accept.
The book has many strong and seductive claims, subsequently weakened by the release of more scroll material.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mind-numbingly dull, 6 May 2009
By 
Andy Rox (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
I'm very disappointed after buying this book. It's extremely outdated, full of repeating, dull information and the writing style sent me off to sleep. I was expecting a book about deception or conspiracy with interesting theories and evidence to back them up. It basically drones on and on about the known facts about the scrolls and about how there must be some conspiracy surrounding them because they haven't been made public. Except they have now. Why don't the publishers delete this book? Or at least the authors update it. I'm sorry to say I couldn't finish it. I couldn't face it. Best of luck!
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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good starting point for anyone interested in the D S Scrolls, 4 Oct 2002
This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
This book is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The book is divided in 3 parts. The first two tell how the (Roman Catholic) Church monopolized, delayed, and suppressed information of the contents of the scrolls for around 40 years. The third part reveals some of the explosive contents of the scrolls and is the most interesting part. It sheds light on the political and religious background of first century Palestine, the origin of Christianity and why the scrolls are such an embarrassment to the Church.
I say it is a good starting point as the book pretty much ends with mentioning that, finally, in the early nineties photo's of all the scrolls are available to all scholars for study. What these new studies reveal however, will have to be read in other books.
I have one minor complaint and that is that the authors draw heavily on Robert Eisenman's work. It left me wondering sometimes if I shouldn't read Eisenman's work instead (probably not as I suspect his work is much harder to read). For this reason, and the fact that some of the content of the book (most notibly concerning the origins of the Church) has been discussed in other work by the authors, I rate it 3 stars instead of 4.
In short: a very worthwile read (especially if it is your first on the subject of early Christianity) but it needs to be followed by more up-to-date books.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to put down polemic but dated, 5 July 2001
By A Customer
I started reading this book when I went to bed at 11pm and it kept me awake till 4am. I could barely believe what I was reading. Every few pages I would groan and think how could this have been allowed to happen. One of the most important discoveries of early judaeo/christian material found for centuries and they let it slip into the hands of the clergy. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Then at about 4am I decided to check the publishing date which was 1992 so then I wondered if my indignation was out of date. According to the postscript this seems to be the case because the material was released at the time the book went into publishing. This must have been rather galling to the authors but at least they should be credited with helping to bring pressure to bear on the proper authorities. Parts I and II rail at length at the international team originally charged with the research into the scrolls. Part III is very different and draws a lot from R H Eisenman's books in which they venture their analysis on whom the Qumran community really were. It certainly contains some fascinating allegations. It's a strange book. I'm not sure I can really recommend it because things have moved on since parts I and II were written. Part III contains a lot of interesting stuff but the authors themselves seem to imply that you should R H Eisenman's books on the subject. On the other hand it is a gripping read, has another interesting approach into the birth of Christianity and has a good dig at the Catholic church.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting interpretation of history, but now out of date, 20 Nov 2010
By 
John Holland (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
When first published, the real battle over the DS Scrolls was one of access - a small band of international interpreters were preventing general access to the scrolls, leading to numerous conspiracy theories. The first 200pp of the book focuses on the people and politics involved in this battle. Now thoroughly out of date, this mind-numbingly dull report is enough to put anyone off finishing. And it's only at the end of the book that the updated version admits all the data is now accessible.

The second part goes into the "deception", describing the linkages between data in the scrolls and the new testament. There are more interesting parts here, so it warrants a second star!! The interpretation of the inhabitants of Qumran as the early Christians, and St Paul as the "liar" of the scrolls certainly raises some challenging questions around Christian doctrine. But it is well known that interpretation of early Christianity was revised and a single version mandated at the Council of Nicea, so hardly news that precursor versions contained conflicting data.

An update to the book that focuses on the now available full dataset, and explores the development of Christian principles through the biblical record and the scrolls, might be useful. This version is barely useful, and out-of-date.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener, 18 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
Extremely interesting book for anybody interested in the origin of monotheistic religions and in the Jesus mythology. Very well written. I recommend it highly.
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66 of 91 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dire, 3 Sep 2004
This review is from: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Paperback)
Baigent and Leigh peddle their moronic conspiracy theories yet again... and hordes of people read them!
The dead sea scrolls were not hidden away by a Vatican scared that people would discover some terrible secret of the early church! Nope, the rather boring truth is that the scrolls were in such a mess, and there were so few academics qualified to reconstruct and analyse them, that the work just took a very very long time. Add to this a sprinkling of office politics (and international politics) and you have a story not quite so sensational.
The dead sea scrolls are of massive academic importance but, unless you are well-versed in Biblical history, it is often difficult to explain WHY they are so important. The fact is that they simply shed a little more light on the development and editorial history of a very much human-manufactured document. It turns out that the "word of God" isn't so immutable after all. Each generation of priests charged with the task of copying out the books of the Torah and Bible has made a little correction here, and changed a word there, and the dead sea scrolls allow us to see that editorial process as it happens.
If you want to read about these fascinating and important documents of the early days of Judaism/Christianity without all the occultist mumbo-jumbo and sensationalism, read Johnathon Campbell's "Deceiphering the Dead Sea Scrolls", a much-ignored, yet very readable popular account of what the DSS can really tell us. And what they can't.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great investigative reporting, documented, action charged., 27 Jun 1998
By A Customer
Well written, political, passionate, relevant. I am a journalist and would love to have had my hands at this kind of evidence, this world cause, and the questions that arise. I need a new edition by the same authors, five years hence. Nicolas Luco, editor of Siglo 21, El Mercurio, Santiago, Chile
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