Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Demistyfing The Dead Sea Scrolls

I'm sure you will not regret buying and listening to this course created and lead by Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman. In 14 Lectures, narrated by the professor himself, one can listen about the most important archaeological discovery of XX century. For those who do not know, in 1947 in a place west to Dead Sea, called Qumran, the first from a set of ancient manuscripts was found. The set was later called The Dead Sea Scrolls. Over next almost 20 years, hundreds of manuscripts, mostly - parts of scrolls were identified. For long time the discovery was a bit secretive, with lots of all sorts of conspiracy theories about them. None of them proved true. And this is what Lawrence Schiffman says - this discovery is one of the greatest, but there is nothing that could "prove" or "disprove" religious believes !!!

The course author makes some interesting hypothesis about Qumran and its community. For example, contrary to popular views telling of Essenes as the Qumran community inhabitants, he convinces the listeners that it was rather created by a group of pious, priestly Sadducees who supposedly distances themselves from the practices of the Temple in Jerusalem.

What is very important in this lecture is the objectivity of its teaching. The author clearly states, that, though the discovery is very important, it does not question or break any of existing religious traditions, including Judaism and Christianity. However, shedding light on the most interesting period in Judaism's history - i.e. the transformation from the Temple periods to later rabbinic or Talmudic period, it also sheds light on early Christian history.

The lecture ends with interesting summary of Dead Sea Scrolls presence in today's public culture, and this presence is said to bring a very positive effect on bringing closer the largest and oldest monotheistic religions of the world....

I listened to this lecture with great attention, also because several weeks ago I was blessed by the possibility to visit Qumran and to feel it's unique atmosphere. See my two pictures:


  1. You have made the most of your travel to Israel, to this site, by seeking more knowledge about the place and the time - how many people do that? I am inspired! Also from your review of the course I am considering how I might learn more about this period and about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Thank you for posting your explorations!

  2. Depending on how much time you have, I suggest reading some good book, or, if you want to try audio, to try this course we are just comment ...
    I guess "Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls" of the same author may be good.
    The another good book, though lengthy and "big" is "The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity"