The Dead Sea Scrolls in English

by Geza Vermes

Paper Book, 1970




Penguin Books (1970) 258 pages


The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judean desert between 1947 and 1956 was one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time. These extraordinary manuscripts appear to have been hidden in the caves at Qumran by the Essenes, a Jewish sect in existence before and during the time of Jesus. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, the scrolls have transformed our understanding of the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism and the origins of Christianity. This is a fully revised edition of the classic translation by Geza Vermes, the world's leading Dead Sea Scrolls scholar. It is now enhanced by much previously unpublished material and a new preface, and also contains a scroll catalogue and an index of Qumran texts.

Original publication date

1962 (1st ed)



½ (101 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member deusvitae
An accessible translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS).

Vermes was a great scholar, well-attuned to Rabbinic texts and thus the history of Judaism, and this is reflected in his treatment of the DSS. The introduction may be long but it is thorough, discussing the circumstances of the discovery of
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the DSS, a history of the translation of the DSS, what is to be learned from the DSS, a survey of scholastic opinion regarding the relationship between the DSS and Qumran, and of course a great analysis of the Essene Jewish community at Qumran as reflected in the DSS. Furthermore, each individual text has an introduction describing its contents to the best of our understanding.

It should be noted that this collection does not include the Biblical texts discovered in the caves around Qumran but does include everything else: the community's sectarian texts, apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts, commentaries on the Biblical texts, compositions written according to the themes of the Biblical texts, etc. Vermes consolidates texts which feature many manuscripts and notes which manuscripts underlie which sections.

The translation effectively communicates the meaning of the texts in English. Many of the texts demand some level of understanding of Second Temple Judaism, and this is where the introduction will prove quite helpful to the non-specialist.

This is a highly recommended translation of the DSS especially for those who are interested in learning more about them but are not specialists in the field.
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LibraryThing member ElTomaso
Essential reading for all who want to know the truth about the origins of religion in the early Mediterranean.
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This book is indeed in English. Complete? Not so much. What the book contains is translations of all the published Dead Sea Scrolls except the ones that are actual Biblical text. Oh, and the myriad bits and scraps that contain only a word or two. Still that leaves 635 pages of material, not
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counting the Appendix. Reading it was, well, a varied experience. Some of it was interesting, some was dreadfully dull. It would serve as waiting room material in a pinch, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but a scholar who had need of it as a reference book.
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