The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls: V.2, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran Community edited by J.H. Charlesworth (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2006). (Logos Edition)
Several weeks ago I reviewed Wise, et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation as this volume functions within Logos Bible Software. Also, I have discussed how books about the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) integrate with other DSS related modules, like the Sectarian Manuscripts and the Biblical DSS (for a summary of these tools see Brian W. Davidson, “DSS Software: Available Texts”). A little over a month ago I reviewed V.1 of this series edited by J.H. Charlesworth titled The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls. That volume highlighted how the Scrolls help us better understand the Hebrew Scriptures. This one has a different focus.
Message of the Book:
This volume is a collection of essays dedicated to what the Scrolls tell us about the community at Qumran. While V. 1 and V. 3 tell us a lot about how the Scrolls impact our understanding of both early Judaism and incipient Christianity, this volume has a far more narrow focus. This isn’t to say that the content cannot help inform our understanding of early Christianity because the community at Qumran is part of the matrix from which Christianity derived, but the main focus is Qumran itself.
Summary of the Contents:
The first volume consisted of thirteen chapters. This volume has twenty-two, so it almost doubles in subject content, though the page content only jumps from 319 pages to 490. Several chapters continue the discussion set forth in V. 1 about the literature at Qumran such as Chapter 7 (Excerpted Manuscripts at Qumran) by B.A. Strawn, Chapter 20 (The Bible, the Psalms of Solomon, and Qumran) by J.L. Trafton, Chapter 21 (Old Testament Pseudepigrapha at Qumran) by D. Dimant, and Chapter 22 (The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha at Qumran) by J.C. VanderKam. Other chapters focus on important figures such as Chapter 16 (The Moses at Qumran), Chapter 17 (Enoch and the Archangel Michael) or shared practices such as Chapter 14 (Daily and Festival Prayers and Qumran) by D.T. Olson, Chapter 15 (The Sociological and Liturgical Dimensions of Psalm Pesher I [4QpPsa]: Some Prolegomenous Reflections) by Charlesworth and J.D. McSpadden, and Chapter 19 (The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Meal Formula in Joseph and Asneth: From Qumran Fever to Qumran Light) by R.D. Chesnutt.
For students of early Christianity chapters 4-13 may be the most beneficial: Chapter 4 (The Covenant at Qumran) by M. Weinfeld, Chapter 5 (What was Distinctive about Messianic Expectations at Qumran?) by J.J. Collins, Chapter 6 (The Law and Spirit of Purity at Qumran) by J.M. Baumgarten, Chapter 8 (The Two Spirits in Qumran Theology) by J.R. Levison, Chapter 9 (Dualism in the Essene Communities) by E. Qimron, Chapter 10 (The Qumran Concept of Time) by H.W. Morisada Rietz, Chapter 11 (Predestination in the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls) by M. Broshi, Chapter 12 (Resurrection: The Bible and Qumran) by E. Puech, and Chapter 13 (Qumran Community Structure and Terminology as Theological Statement) by S. Metso. I say this because the chapters discuss the ideology of the community. Personally, chapters like Collins’ discussion of messianism and Baumgarten’s and Levison’s chapters on pneumatology were the most helpful for me, but others may find chapters like Broshi’s on predestination or Puech’s on resurrection useful for shaping the context in which early Christians were formulating their understanding of these very subjects.
Chapter 2 (Another Stab at the Wicked Priest) by D.N. Freedman and J.C. Geoghegan and Chapter 3 (What’s in a Calendar? Calendar Conformity and Calendar Controvery in Ancient Judaism: The Case of the “Community of the Renewed Covenant”) by S. Talmon contribute to our understanding of the formation of the community. Chapter 1 (Digital Miracles: Revealing Invisible Scripts) by K.T. Knox, R.L. Easton, Jr., and R.H. Johnson discusses how technology has helped scholars recover the texts on the scrolls in spite of all the wear and tear of the years.
Admittedly, I am not an expert on Qumran studies, so I cannot tell you how quickly the field is advancing. These essays are from 2006, so there has been almost another decade of development. That said, they do summarize the findings of scholars who have been working on these scrolls for decades. This particular volume is best suited for students of Qumran and early Judaism, though it will benefit students of early Christianity as well. As I stated in my last review, “When it is part of a program like Logos Bible Software is becomes even more valuable since Logos makes it easier to do searches.” These volumes are probably better suited to function as reference resources rather than books you’d read from beginning to end, so having a way to quickly search each chapter when you are wanting to know about a particular subject is especially helpful.
This book was provided for free in exchanged for an unbiased review.