Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, The
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English is the first full English translation of the Hebrew scriptures used by the Essene sect at Qumran. (The Essenes, along with the Pharisees and Saducees, were among the three most influential Jewish groups of their time [150 B.C. to 68 A.D.]). Between 1947 and 1956, in 11 caves overlooking the Dead Sea, more than 800 manuscripts of two types were found. The first are called "biblical"--because they contain material that was later canonized in the Hebrew Bible; the second are called "non-Biblical"--because they contain poetry, rules for holy living, and imaginative, midrashic interpretations that are unique to the community that produced them. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible comprises the biblical manuscripts, including many new Psalms, Apocryphal books, and previously unknown readings of Deuteronomy and Isaiah (which appear to have been among the most important books of the Bible to this group of Essenes). The translation of each book is preceded by an introduction that describes the text's importance to the Essenes, their distinctive interpretations of the text, and suggestions of how historical and political events may have shaped these interpretations. Translators Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich have loaded this volume with scholarly notes and commentary, but their interpretations are formatted in a way that does not impede the general reader's enjoyment of the book. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible breathes new life into scripture by delving into the earliest source material yet discovered. It is a crucial work to reckon with for anyone interested in Jewish life around the time of Jesus. --Michael Joseph Gross.