Review of The Dead Sea Scrolls, Fifty Years after Their Discovery: Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress, July 20–25, 1997, edited by Lawrence H. Schiffman, Emanuel Tov, and James C. VanderKam; executive editor Galen Marquis
Date of this Version
Occasionally a volume appears that is almost impossible to review, whether because the material it presents is completely new, the subject matter is so esoteric, or the material is so eclectic that it cannot be absorbed in a single review. The latter is the case with the present volume, which contains over 100 articles by scholars from the United States, Israel, Canada, and Europe. The subject matter is the finds from the Judaean Desert—not only the written remains but also the material, biological, and architectural remains as well. The written remains include the Qumran scrolls (popularly referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Wadi ed-Daliyeh papyri, the Nahal Hever and Wadi Murrabaçat collections, and the fragments found at Masada, as well as various individual finds from the region. The other material remains come from the find sites of the written collections. The resulting volume is a vast compendium of Judaean Desert scholarship, including wide-ranging syntheses by established scholars in the field (e.g., “The Qumran Scrolls and the Biblical Text” by Eugene Ulrich) and small-scale studies of a single aspect of scrolls studies (e.g., “Some Observations on the Aramaic in Qumran: The 3rd Fem. Sing. Pronominal Suffix” by Ursula Schattner-Riesner). As the editors state, “The subjects covered were many and varied as is attested to in these conference volumes. The various genres of the literature reflected in the scrolls, the languages, the parallels in previously known compositions, the concepts, doctrines, and beliefs, the impact of historical events on the settlements in this region—all these aspects come to life in the scrolls and scroll fragments from what was once a dark period in modern knowledge of Judean history” (pp. xix–xx). As the reader can immediately grasp, this is not a volume that will be read and digested as a whole. Instead, different scholars will use different parts of the volume, depending upon their interests in various aspects of scrolls scholarship.