The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered
The First Complete Translation and Interpretation of 50 Key Documents withheld for Over 35 Years
By Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise
Penguin (1993), 288 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - May 7, 2010
See my review on The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English for a description of the scrolls and the history of the ancient Essene community that owned them. The authors of this volume offer their own translation of fifty of the hundreds of age-old documents that were found in Israel. Their book has a sixteen page general introduction to the texts followed by the fifty documents. Each of the documents is shown in its original Hebrew or Aramaic followed by an English translation. Readers familiar with these languages can see if they agree with the authors' translations. These non-English sections highlight and dramatize how the texts are fragmentary because they show the spaces between words and even in the midst of words. Each document is preceded by a specific introduction explaining it. The fifty documents are grouped into eight classes: messianic and visionary recitals, prophets and pseudo-prophets, biblical interpretations, calendrical texts and priestly courses, testaments and admonitions, righteous and legal texts, hymns and mysteries, and the last, divination, magic and miscellaneous. The documents show, among many other things, how the group waited for a saving messiah and how, like other misguided people of their time, they believed that seclusion defends people from injustice, cleanliness brings holiness, and the world is filled with malicious demons that must be avoided.