Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Dead Sea Scrolls - FITJ

If you saw no reason to listen to Michael Satlow's podcast From Israelite to Jew, because you were not especially interested in the history of Judaism or the Bible or such, you may find there is still something to find. The latest issue is about the Dead Sea Scrolls, that marvelous archeological find that has so many mesmerized and has given cause to so many speculations.

Satlow retells the drama of the scrolls' find, hiding and eventual disclosure. He also gives a good inventory of what is among the scrolls. What kind of texts they are, whose they were, why they were stored in the caves near Qumran on the north west shore of the Dead Sea. One gets to understand the amazing riches of the find. A nearly complete Hebrews Bible, many centuries older than manuscripts available at the time. In addition many other texts that give insight in the theological, historical and social situation at the time.

The question whose texts these were, is closely intertwined with what authority they carry. Eventually, Satlow emphasizes the historical importance and historical questions around the find. Central are the questions about what Jewish sect owned and produced the scrolls. Are they the elusive Essenes or not? Without giving a definitive answer, the non-biblical texts in the find, add to the inventory of Jewish sects and streams of thought and theologies of the time, including the just arrived early Christians.

More FITJ:
Herod the Ambiguous,
Jewish varieties,
Jews in the Hasmonean era,
The Maccabee Uprising,
Hellenism.
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