Date of this Version
This volume is part of a series entitled Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature, edited by P. Flint, M. Abegg, Jr., and F. García Martínez. The aim of the series is to make “available to readers at all levels the best of current Dead Sea Scrolls research.” The collection of essays gathered in this volume succeeds in that goal admirably.
The volume grew out of a conference at Trinity Western University on April 24, 1999 (the editors are thus to be congratulated on bringing the volume to publication rapidly). The introduction, written by John J. Collins, gives an overview of scholarship on the religion of the Scrolls beginning with the publication of Helmer Ringgren’s 1963 book The Faith of Qumran: The Theology of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Fortress Press; Swedish edition 1961). According to Collins, discussion of the religious ideas of the Dead Sea Scrolls up until the early 1990s centered on a few texts: the Rule of the Community, the Damascus Document, the Hodayot, the Pesharim, and the War Scroll. With the publication of the majority of the fragmentary texts from Qumran in the early 1990s, the textual landscape changed; new questions began to be asked and new solutions proposed. The most far-reaching of the changes was a new appreciation for the relationship of the Dead Sea Scrolls with other strands of Judaism, which gave the rabbinic evidence a new prominence. This prominence sometimes worked to the detriment of the Scrolls’ previously observed ties to early Christianity. As we begin a new decade and a new century of Qumran research, Collins argues that scholars must “do justice both to [the Dead Sea sect’s] continuity with Jewish tradition and to its distinctive innovations; to its affinities both with early Christianity and with rabbinic Judaism” (p. 5). Collins sees the affinities with early Christianity in the areas of messianic expectation, judgment after death, and apocalyptic thought, while the Scrolls’ religious ideals and ethical values are closer to rabbinic Judaism. The essays in this volume tackle all of those topics and more.