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Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

"Good things often come in small packages." When one has read this brief book, one will have about as good and current an introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls as one can find. Not only did Fitzmyer serve with the scroll team, helping to piece together the myriads of fragments from Cave Four (1957-1958), but he has maintained close and continuing contact with their publication and developments in their study. His The Dead Sea Scrolls: Major Publications and Tools for Study is almost mandatory for anyone proposing to study the Scrolls.

The book is organized as a series of 101 questions and answers. The first section proceeds from the narrative of the discovery and a listing of the Scrolls, with a very brief description of each, to a gradual unfolding with longer descriptions, and finally to detailed descriptions of the major documents. The second discusses the impact of the Scrolls on the study of the Old Testament and ancient Judaism, especially the Qumran community. F. begins with an excellent introduction to Jewish apocalyptic and continues with a good review of the various teachings and practices at Qumran. He includes a careful discussion of the possible identification of the people of Qumran with the Essenes; while the identification is not certain at this point, it seems the best of current options.

F. goes on to treat the impact of the Scrolls on the study of the New Testament and early Christianity. Was John the Baptist an Essene? Perhaps - but no mention and no proof. There are no references to Jesus or to Christians. NT ideas such as Son of God, Servant of Yahweh, Son of Man, etc. are discussed, as well as parallels in ideas and phraseology between the Scrolls and NT books. This section includes discussions on divorce and on possible analogies between the Qumran lifestyle and that of early Christian monasticism. Finally, F. handles recent developments in Scroll study, the release of the entire collection for scholarly study, and the charges of scandal and suppression which have been made. Here is a sober, well - balanced, carefully-phrased exposition of the recent developments which have been so widely - and often tendentiously - publicized.

While this book is for the general reader - and is highly recommended - F.'s mastery of the materials provides much which will be of interest and use to the scholar as well.
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Author:Gold, Victor Roland
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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