Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version



Published in Religious Studies Review 29:2 (April 2003), pp. 167-170. Published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion. Used by permission.


The aim of the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to its editors, is “to encompass all scholarship on the scrolls to date, making use of the research of many scholars of international reputation” (x). The word “scrolls” is used here in its broad meaning to refer to all the collections of ancient manuscripts found in the region of the Dead Sea and the Judaean wilderness in the twentieth century. These collections include the Qumran Scrolls, the Samaria Papyri, the Bar Kokhba texts, Masada and Khirbet Mird. Thus, although the Encyclopedia is more limited in geographical and chronological scope than, say, a biblical encyclopedia, a wider variety of topics is covered than would be the case if the editors had chosen to limit the Encyclopedia to the Qumran Scrolls. To produce the entries on this wider range of topics, the editors have assembled a group of contributors who are, as they state, of international repute, coming not only from the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom (as would be expected in an English-language encyclopedia), but also Germany, Israel, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland. Although many of these contributors are known as specialists in Qumran studies, others are from unrelated fields such as the morphological sciences or ethnobotany. The resulting collection of articles is truly “encyclopedic” in scope, ranging from expected topics such as “Essenes,” to the unexpected “Flora of Judea.”

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