Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version



Published in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 347 (2007), pp. 116-117. Copyright © 2007 American Schools of Oriental Research.


Edna Ullmann-Margalit, a professor of the philosophy of science 1 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has turned her interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls into a fascinating study of the scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls. As she makes clear in the introduction (p. 17), Ullmann-Margalit makes no claim to expertise in the Scrolls, but is rather engaged in “second-order” scholarship; her subject is the study of the Scrolls. The book is divided into an introduction and three chapters: Chapter 1, “Writings and Ruins: The Essene Connection”; Chapter 2, “A Hard Look at ‘Hard Facts’: The Archaeology of Qumran”; and Chapter 3, “Sects and Scholars.” In the introduction, Ullmann- Margalit lays out her primary goal, which is “to subject to scrutiny the inner logic of the main theory of Qumran studies as well as of the rival theories.” The main theory is the Qumran-Essene hypothesis, which Ullmann-Margalit defines as follows: “the scrolls found in the caves [in the vicinity of Qumran] belonged to the sect of the Essenes and that the Essene center, or ‘motherhouse,’ was at the nearby site of Khirbet Qumran” (p. 23). As Ullmann-Margalit notes, this hypothesis can be broken down into three constituent elements, which she puts in the form of questions: Why Essenes? Why Qumran? Why a sect? (p. 16). Each of these questions is addressed in the following chapters.

Included in

Classics Commons