Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls?

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Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search For The Secret Of Qumran
Golb book cover.jpg
First US edition cover
Author Norman Golb
Cover artist Erich Hobbing
Country United States
Language English
Subject Dead Sea scrolls, Qumran
Genre History, Paleography
Publisher Scribner
Publication date
June 1, 1995
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 446
ISBN 978-0-025-44395-2
OCLC 31009916

Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search For The Secret Of Qumran[1] is a book by Norman Golb which intensifies the debate over the origins of the Dead Sea scrolls, furthering the opinion that the scrolls were not the work of the Essenes, as other scholars claim, but written in Jerusalem and moved to Qumran in anticipation of the Roman siege in 70 AD.

Summary[edit]

Contents[edit]

  • Part I - A new Theory of Scroll Origins
    1. The Qumran Plateau
    2. The Manuscripts of the Jews
    3. 1947; The First Scroll Discoveries
    4. The Qumran-Essene Theory: A paradigm reconsidered
    5. The Copper Scroll, the Masada manuscripts, and the Siege of Jerusalem
    6. Scroll origins: Rengstorf's Theory and Edmund Wilson's response
  • Part II - Science, Politics, and the Dead Sea Scrolls
    1. The Temple Scroll, the Acts of Torah, and the Qumranologists' dilemma
    2. Power Politics and the Collapse of the Scrolls Monopoly
      This chapter discusses Géza Vermes' involvement in the purchase of photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Oxford University under the condition that they only be shown to scholars selected by the official editorial team that controlled access to the scrolls. Golb states that "Vermes could not possibly have avoided knowing of the financial agreement that facilitated the transfer of photographs" (p. 236), and that Vermes' statement of November 8, 1991, "directly contradicted the position taken by him and the [Oxford] Centre in the [London] Times correspondence published three months earlier" (p. 237). The chapter also describes how Vermes used the media "to promote his support for the traditional Essene hypothesis," but showed "disdain" for the similar use of the media by Dr. Robert Eisenman to promote a different view (p. 241).
    3. Myth and Science in the World of Qumranology
    4. The deepening Scrolls Controversy
    5. The New York Conference and Some Academic Intrigues
    6. The importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Reception[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Writing in Church History, Gregory T. Armstrong stated: "This book is 'must reading' for every historian regardless of her or his period of specialization. It demonstrates how a particular interpretation of an ancient site and particular readings of ancient documents became a straitjacket for subsequent discussion of what is arguably the most widely publicized set of discoveries in the history of biblical archaeology... Especially interesting is the account of events related to the exhibition of scroll fragments in the United States in 1993-1994. What is most distressing here is the reluctance of so many parties to the scrolls controversy—by then widely publicized—to engage in a full and free discussion of the many questions which had arisen."[2]

Reviewing the British edition of the work, Daniel O'Hara stated that Golb "gives us much more than just a fresh and convincing interpretation of the origin and significance of the Qumran Scrolls. His book is also — among other things — a fascinating case-study of how an idee fixe, for which there is no real historical justification, has for over 40 years dominated an elite coterie of scholars controlling the Scrolls, who have not only sought to restrict access to those who are prepared to toe their party-line, but have abused and rubbished those 'heretics' who have attempted to place a different interpretation on them."[3]

The Publisher Weekly, refers to this book as disputing the conventional wisdom that Dead Sea Scrolls related to the communal sect of the Essenes, and that their presumed monastery is actually a Jewish fortress. It also refers to Golb's belief that the "scrolls and related fragmentary manuscripts embody a wide spectrum of doctrines, genres and themes, from a Hebrew hymn by a Jewish nationalist poet to an apocalyptic brotherhood initiation to an inventory of documents stashed away in the Judaean wilderness"[4]

A seminar on the Scrolls dated July 14, 2000, hosted by Australia's ABC Radio National's host Rachael Kohn with Dead Sea Scrolls scholars Geza Vermes, Lawrence Schiffman and Emanuel Tov, refers to this book as "An important dissenting opinion: Golb refuses to accept the 'consensus view' that Qumran was the site of the Essenes sect, and that they owned and wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, but instead argues that Qumran was a fortress like others in the area and that the library of scrolls was from the Jerusalem Temple."[5] (The book, however, at pp. 159–60, specifically rejects the idea that the scrolls came from the Jerusalem Temple, attributing this theory to Karl Rengstorf and asserting that Rengstorf had failed to "conceive of other libraries in Jerusalem whose owners could equally well have hidden away their contents.")

A New York Times article of December 24, 2002 quotes Katharina M. Galor, a Brown University archaeologist specialized on Qumran, as stating of the Dead Sea Scrolls that "There is no new consensus... Or the new consensus is that the old consensus is dead."[6]

Craig W. Beard, of the University of Alabama Library, writes in its review that appeared in Library Journal that "Contrary to scholarly consensus, Golb contends that, rather than being the product of sectarian scribes, the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of individuals from many diverse groups and that they were deposited in the caves near the Dead Sea (among other locations) by Jews fleeing the Roman army during the First Revolt" and that although the book is based in historical, archaeological, and paleographical evidence, "he also lets readers in on his personal efforts to question and oppose the scholarly status quo, leaving the impression of being self-serving."[7]

Ilene Cooper from Booklist suggest that public libraries carry this book for "its provocative assertions."[8]

Cites[edit]

Géza Vermes, wrote in his An Introduction to the Complete Dead Sea Scrolls (2000), that Golb is responsible for "another forceful attack on the common view," an attack which Golb has furthered in several papers since 1980, and which culminated in his book. Vermes asserts that the target of Golb's criticism is the provenance of the manuscripts found at Qumran, his hypothesis being that the manuscripts originated in a Jerusalem library or libraries which were concealed in caves when the capital was besieged by the Romans, and that these manuscripts have nothing to do with Qumran, or with the Essenes.[9]

David Fiensy (2007) cites Golb's book for "the view that the scrolls represent Judaism in general and not a sect", citing A. Dupont-Somer, N. Avigad and E. L. Sukenik, F. M. Cross, D. Flusser, H. Stegemann, G. Vermes, J. Fitzmyer, J.C. VaderKam, Edrdmans, F. G. Martinez, J. H. Charlesworth, and C. M. Murphy for the view that the Qumran sectarian where Essenes, and Schiffman for the view that the scrolls were written by Sadducees.[10]

William Edward Arnal and Michel Robert Desjardins in their Whose Historical Jesus? (1997) cites the book while comparing the different hypotheses on the "Qumranites", citing other scholars such as James H. Charlesworth (Jesus and the Dead Scrolls, 203) who judges that the Qumranites were one of the Essenes groups, and Hartmut Stegemann. "Qumran und das Judentum zur Zeit Jesu" 84 (1994): 175-94 as basing "his support of the Essene hypothesis of factors of hierarch, initiation rites, community of goods, ritual baths, a common meal and views on marriage as well as calendar." They then refer to the alternative estimate of Golb, "that the scrolls came from Jerusalem to a fortress in Qumran during the siege of Jerusalem around 70 CE[11]

Publication history[edit]

US editions[edit]

  • First edition: Scribner, 1995
  • Book-of-the-Month Club/History Book Club edition, 1995
  • Quality Paperback Book Club edition, 1995
  • Touchstone Press paperback edition, 1996

British edition[edit]

  • Michael O'Mara Books, 1995

E-book edition[edit]

  • In June 2012, a digital edition appeared on Amazon-Kindle, Google, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, and other e-book sites. The digital edition includes several supplementary notes and updated bibliographical information concerning research developments since 1995.

Editions in other languages[edit]

  • German: QUMRAN: Wer schrieb die Schriftrollen von toten Meer?, Hoffmann und Campe Verlag, Hamburg, 1994 (translated by Olga Rinne und Joachim Rehork)
  • Dutch: Wie schreef de Dode-Zeerollen?, Tirion Press, 1996 (translated by Lidy Bos)
  • French: Qui a écrit les manuscrits de la mer Morte?, Librairies Plon, 1998 (translated by Sonia Kronlund and Lorraine Champromis)
  • Portuguese: Quem Escreveu os Manuscritos do Mar Morto?, Imago Editore, 1996 (translated by Sonia de Sousa Moreira)
  • Japanese: Shoeisha Publishers, 1998

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Golb, Norman (1996). Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?: the search for the secret of Qumran. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80692-4. 
  2. ^ Armstrong, Gregory T. Church History Vol. 64, No. 4 (1995), pp. 635-636. Armstrong further states: "I find Golb's argument that the site has all the characteristics of a military fort compelling.... Numerous considerations point to the First Jewish War or Revolt, probably the months just prior to the siege of Jerusalem, as the occasion for the hiding of the Scrolls... There was a widespread effort to preserve the Jews’ religious and intellectual heritage and we are the unintended beneficiaries... If Golb has an agenda, it is his concern that many of the scholars associated with the Dead Sea scrolls from the outset and until quite recently held or were influenced by 'the entrenched belief that the culture of the Jews mattered relatively little, and that urban civilization was a force inimical to it' (p. 171). These scholars could not accept or possibly even conceive the extent of the literature associated with Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. Golb goes on to lay out in commendable detail the controversies surrounding the scrolls and their publication as well as their interpretation."
  3. ^ O'Hara, Daniel, New Humanist, Vol. III, No. 2 (June 1996), pp. 22-23. O'Hara further states: "The unfortunate stranglehold of the 'Essene-hypothesis' has been maintained in official circles, and promulgated in important international exhibitions, right into the present decade.... This most welcome, lucid and passionate book will no doubt come to be seen as a watershed in the process of liberating the scrolls from the Procrustean bed which has restricted their availability and hindered their proper evaluation for almost half a century. For all it tells us about the Scrolls themselves, the general reader will perhaps find it even more gripping for its detailed and fascinating dissection of some particularly disgraceful episodes in academic politics. As such, it both deserves and will receive a much wider readership than those primarily interested in the Qumran library."
  4. ^ Publisher Weekly: "The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947 in caves in the village of Qumran, now on Jordan's West Bank, have been linked to the Essenes, an ancient Jewish pacifist, communal sect, and some scholars have suggested that Jesus may have been an Essene. Golb, professor of Jewish history and civilization at the University of Chicago, disputes the conventional wisdom in an engrossing, closely argued study. In his rival theory, Palestinian Jews, fearful of the impending Roman siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, took or copied manuscripts from Jerusalem's libraries, smuggled them out of the city and hid them at Qumran, Massada and other sites. Moreover, the presumed Essene monastery of Qumran was actually a Jewish rebel fortress, argues Golb, who marshals archaeological, historical and textual evidence, including his own fieldwork at Qumran and his work on the scrolls. He believes the scrolls and related fragmentary manuscripts embody a wide spectrum of doctrines, genres and themes, from a Hebrew hymn by a Jewish nationalist poet to an apocalyptic brotherhood initiation to an inventory of documents stashed away in the Judaean wilderness."
  5. ^ "The Dead Sea Scrolls: More info". Archived from the original on 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  6. ^ Wilford, John N. (December 24, 2002). "Debate Erupts Over Authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Beard, Craig, W., Library Journal: "Contrary to scholarly consensus, Golb contends that, rather than being the product of sectarian scribes, the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of individuals from many diverse groups and that they were deposited in the caves near the Dead Sea (among other locations) by Jews fleeing the Roman army during the First Revolt (c. 70 c.e.). He also claims that the Qumran complex served not as an Essene monastery but as a fortress for Jews involved in the revolt. This is primarily a scholarly work (though it is not beyond the grasp of nonspecialists). Golb marshalls historical, archaeological, and paleographical evidence to support his arguments. Unfortunately, he also lets readers in on his personal efforts to question and oppose the scholarly status quo, leaving the impression of being self-serving. Because of growing public interest in the scrolls and dissatisfaction with traditional theories about them, this work should be in both public and academic collections."
  8. ^ Cooper, Ilene, Booklist: There has been a spate of new books about the Dead Sea scrolls since their recent "liberation" from the small group of scholars who were originally granted exclusive access to the historic documents. The prevalent theory among those first researchers was that the scrolls were the work of the Essenes, an ascetic sect that presumably had a settlement near where the scrolls were found. Golb, a professor of Jewish history and civilization at the University of Chicago, has a different theory. He claims that the scrolls were the work of many different groups and were moved to the Judaean wilderness during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He also argues that the supposed Essene monastery was actually a Jewish fortress. Golb's scholarly credentials are both a plus and a minus. He obviously has plenty of archaeological and historical evidence to back up his claims, but he also writes like an academician, and despite the book's catchy title and subtitle, it will take more than the casual reader to plow through Golb's dense prose. Public libraries that can only afford one scrolls tome should stick with Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls (1992), edited by Hershel Shanks, but those with active religion or archaeology collections will want this one for its provocative assertions"
  9. ^ Vermes, Géza (2000). An introduction to the complete Dead Sea scrolls. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. p. 17. ISBN 0-8006-3229-X. 
  10. ^ Fiensy, David A. Jesus the Galilean. Gorgias Press LLC. pp. xi. ISBN 1-59333-313-7. 
  11. ^ Desjardins, Michel Robert; Arnal, William E. (1997). Whose historical Jesus?. Waterloo, Ont: Published for the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 0-88920-295-8. 
    "Qumranites" refers to those who sponsored the Dead Sea Scrolls and where responsible for placing them in the caves near the Dead Sea. Not all manuscripts found in caves 1 ro 11 where of Qumranite origin. There is enough unity among the manuscripts, however to represent a "Qumran library" (i.e., "Qumran scrolls") and a Qumranite view of things. See Charlesworth, ed., Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Doubleday, 1992) for a list of common features of the scrolls that reflect international and critical scholarly consensus. This study will work from the position that Qumranites represent a group closely parallel to the Essenes described by Josephus, Philo and Pliny the Elder. I do not equate the sponsors of the Qumran scroll with the Essenes; the descriptions In Philo, Piny and Josephus warrant caution in assuming thet are the same group. Many others scholars (See Charlesworth, Jesus and the Dead Scrolls, 203), judge that the Qumranites were one of the Essenes groups; for example see Hartmut Stegemann. "Qumran und das Judentum zur Zeit Jesu" 84 (1994): 175-94, who bases his support of the Essene hypothesis of factors of hierarch, initiation rites, community of goods, ritual baths, a common meal and views on marriage as well as calendar. Alternatively, Norman Golb estimates that the scrolls came from Jerusalem to a fortress in Qumran during the siege of Jerusalem around 70 CE., see Norman Golb Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search For The Secret Of Qumran (New Your, Scribner (1995)