By Hershel Shanks (246 Pages)Publisher: Vintage Books, 1999
Although almost everyone has heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, few people can explain what they say or why they are significant. In , Hershel Shanks, the distinguished editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, gives a vivid account of their religious and historical context and their dissemination, meaning, and implications. Of the eight hundred manuscripts that were eventually found, fewer than a dozen were more or less intact. The rest were mere fragments, many no bigger than a fingernail. The scrolls contain a vast array of bewildering new material: unknown psalms, biblical commentaries, calendrical texts, and apocalyptic manuscripts. Over two hundred biblical manuscripts were hidden in the Qumran caves, some dramatically different from accounts in the Bible. This is a clear, definitive account, the most complete assessment of the scrolls to date, from beginning to end, for the layperson as well as the scholar, of the mystery and meaning of the scrolls.