AO 7:02, Mar/Apr 2004
The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Philip R. Davies, George J. Brooke and Phillip R. Callaway, eds.
(New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002), 216 pp., $34.95
The Dead Sea Scrollsas esoteric and daunting a collection of ancient documents as we are ever likely to findhave become a fixture of popular culture. TV personality David Letterman, known for his nightly Top Ten lists, once featured the Top Ten Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls. (My favorite was number 4: Without going into details, Episcopalians are in a lot of trouble.)
Though well known, the Scrolls are also deeply misunderstood. A Scrolls scholar told me that on a recent trip to Israel he accompanied a tour group as its bus approached Qumran, the settlement along the Dead Sea near where the Scrolls were found; the tour guide announced, Ladies and gentlemen, here is the birthplace of Christianity. Afterward, the scholar asked the guide why he had made that announcementthe Scrolls have no direct connection to Christianity, the scholar pointed out. I know, the tour guide responded, but its more dramatic this way.