The Dead Sea Scrolls—Forty Years of ResearchEdited by Devorah Dimant and Uriel Rappaport (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1992) 370 pp., 180 Dutch guilders ($102.86)
This book publishes papers read at a 1988 Dead Sea Scroll conference at the University of Haifa and the University of Tel Aviv marking the 40th anniversary of the discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. Never mind that it was the 41st anniversary. As the editors say, “It is an occasion to pause, to take stock of achievements, and to reflect on the future.” Actually, there is very little of that in the book. The papers, as might be expected, are for the most part very technical and are intended for the specialist. But they do reflect the immense amount of scholarship taking place in connection with the scrolls. Many of the leading Dead Sea Scroll scholars are here, telling us in detail the avenues they are pursuing.
Esther Chazon discusses criteria for deciding whether or not a text is sectarian, that is, whether it is peculiar to the sect (be it Essene or not) represented by the religious community that collected the library. Most of the texts, like the Biblical books, are not peculiar to the sect that collected the library. But some are, and it is often difficult to tell which are which.
Carol Newsom publishes a new text that contains numerous allusions to the Exodus and to the settlement in Canaan. It seems to refer to these events in the past tense, so it would not pretend to be of Mosaic authorship. More likely it is a rhetorical appeal rather than a simple narrative.