What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Do They Matter?

by David Noel Freedman

Other authorsPam Fox Kuhlken
Book, 2007



Call number

010 BAS


Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans, 2007.


You know the Scrolls are important . . . but you don't really know why. Sure, there are plenty of scholarly volumes on the Dead Sea Scrolls, full of indexes, footnotes, and jargon for those in the know. But what if you're not a specialist? What if you just want a basic understanding of what the Dead Sea Scrolls are, where they came from, and why they're so important? That's where this little book comes in. David Noel Freedman and Pam Fox Kuhlken here offer an informed, inside look at these significant ancient texts. Full of humor and behind-the-scenes glimpses into research on the Scrolls, What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Do They Matter? is a fascinating, accessible guidebook -- perfect for any reader seeking a brief, quality introduction to this inscrutable subject. Answers a gamut of questions from the general to the paranoid to the somewhat cynical -- for example: What are the Dead Sea Scrolls all about? Who wrote them, why, and in what languages? Have the Scrolls changed our understanding of any passages in the Bible? Who's hiding stolen fragments? Do the Scrolls tell us when the world will end? How has technology improved our ability to study the Scrolls? How much would a Scroll fragment sell for on eBay today?… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member StephenBarkley
This book is exactly what I expected: a very brief overview of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Using an engaging interview format, Kuhlken quizzes Freedman on the various questions surrounding the Scrolls.

Most—but not all—of this book was review for me, but a helpful review. If you’re a little fuzzy on
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the basics of the Scrolls or are looking for an introduction, this is a great primer. Freedman has studied the scrolls since they were found in 1947, so he’s a reliable guide. He handles questions about treasure-hunts and LXX validation with even grace and wisdom.

Here’s my sole criticism: Kuhlken persists in asking irrelevant Christianity-related questions. Freedman accurately states that the Qumran community was not influenced by Jesus or Christianity—in fact, it’s the other way around. Still, Kuhlken asks a series of questions to relate the two faiths. I suppose that’s what the main audience for this book would expect. I just found it slightly irritating.

You can’t go wrong with this book. It’s not too deep, but it’s wide and reliable.
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Original publication date



0802844243 / 9780802844248
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