313 of 328 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the first time in 2000 years...
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...
Published on 28 Sep 2003 by Kurt Messick
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 4 months ago by Mrs M S Davidson
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313 of 328 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the first time in 2000 years...,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Paperback)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. The introduction deals with a brief sketch of the history of research (including a bit on the controversies, such as not allowing Jewish scholars to work on these Jewish texts, the close-guarding and restrictive access of the scrolls by the scholars); further issues in the introduction address current research, including questions of dating, provenance, and perhaps, most importantly, the meaning and significance of the Qumran texts.
Vermes puts together a three-part essay on his view (as well as a little on alternative views) of who was the community at Qumran, the history of that community, and the religious ideas of the community.
This is where we get into the text of the Scrolls in earnest. Vermes begins with The Community Rule a large document that listed the requirements and a penal code. This is best known as the Manual of Discipline. Composition may have begun about 100 BCE, and several fragmentary remains exist of copies of the manual.
'There are, to my knowledge, no writings in ancient Jewish sources parallel to the Community Rule, but a similar type of literature flourished amogn Christians between the second and fourth centuries, the so-called 'Church Orders' represented by works such as the Didache, the Didascalia, the Apostolic Constitution.'
From the Rules and variants, including the now-infamous MMT text, which provoked international lawsuits for violating the 'copyright' exerted by one Scroll scholar on its contents, Vermes proceeds to examine Hymns and Poems; Calendars, Liturgies and Prayers; Apocalyptic Works (which have the greatest appeal to many imminent eschatologically-inclined sects today); Wisdom Literature; Bible translations, commentaries, and apocryphal works; and Miscellanea, including objects such as the Copper Scroll (a rare form, not on parchment, which reads like an accountant's register of treasure), and lists, including the List of False Prophets.
For anyone interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls in any serious way, this is an essential book. With various 'complete' scroll editions and collections being released, this edition, produced by one who has devoted his life to scroll studies, remains one of the best, most complete and clearly translated.
The one drawback, which will only affect those whose interest extends to the study of Roman-period Hebrew and Aramaic, is that there is no photographic imagery or recreation in Hebrew/Aramaic script to show the actual scroll text so that one might make a personal study of the accuracy of the translation. Thus, this text works best for that purpose in conjunction with another translation, or with the very-expensive scroll photographic plate sets now available.
But, for most any use from general interest to scholarship, this volume will serve the reader well.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Whoever has drawn out his left hand to gesticulate with it shall do penance for ten days,",
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)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. But here is not the place to elaborate on arguments as to whether Alexander Jannaeus is King Jonathan or Jonathan Maccabeus, or whether the Teacher of Righteousness is Jesus's brother James or whether Saint Paul is the Wicked Priest. Vermes's ninety-page introduction is of immense value in coolly and calmly addressing the subject as a whole and the controversies that surround it.
In his note to the translation, Vermes writes that, "The purpose of this translation is to enable the reader to come into direct contact with the literary works found at Qumran. The English does not follow slavishly the Hebrew and Aramaic originals but aims at being faithful, intelligible and as far as possible readable." Each work is prefaced by a short introduction. Often, the work will be followed by additions and variants found in other caves, thus demonstrating the comprehensiveness of this `complete collection'
The works are contained within eight sections, the titles of which may give you more of an idea of what to expect: `The Rules' (152 pages), `Hymns & Poems' (98), `Calendars, Liturgies & Prayers' (56), `Historical & Apocalyptical Works' (14), `Wisdom Literature' (44), `Bible Interpretation' (78), `Biblically-Based Apocryphal Works' (86), and `Miscellanea' (12). Be warned, though, these texts will probably not inspire or excite the novice reader. Who could be, by such topics as rules on the drinking of fruit juice and the eating of cucumbers? These texts are for the committed student of history, theology,
There then follow appendices - a catalogue of the scrolls, an index of the Qumran texts, a list of the major editions of the Qumran manuscripts, a general bibliography, and a general index. What's missing is a glossary for those uncertain of some of the meanings of words such as `Levites', `Belial', `Zadok', and who might wonder about who was meant by the phrase `Sons of Light'. I realise, though, that the line between objectivity and subjective interpretation would be thin in areas such as this. Footnotes might also be of use. When we read, "Whoever has drawn out his left hand to gesticulate with it shall do penance for ten days," I can guess why, but it would have been nice to have received confirmation in a footnote.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars detailed read,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)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
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Scholarly Work on the History and Beliefs of the Essenes,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)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.
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars jolemor,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Paperback)These originals are quite the best translations of the scrolls. They are especially valuable as Geza Vermes has recently died.
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good.,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)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 would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn/study the DSS without being lost in scholarly waffle.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone who needs to know more,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)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.
2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Academics only,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)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. If you're an academic on the other hand, you may well find it contains hours of fun and amusement. Otherwise it's a very dry, disjointed collection of fragments. If you're looking for a cure for insomnia, this may do the trick. If you're looking for Jesus, you'll find more information in your local phone book.
0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dead sea scrolls,
This review is from: The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition (Paperback)ordered as a review as mentioned in other book(s) to study whats they have found.
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The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition by Geza Vermes (Paperback - 24 Jun 2004)
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