Biblical Archaeology Review 34:1, January/February 2008

ReViews: Dead Sea Scrolls at a Glance

This short book is meant to be a popular introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls and associated subjects. It is set up as an interview with David Noel Freedman, a well-known scholar of the Hebrew Bible who has also worked with the scrolls. (He was one of the two editors of the paleo-Hebrew Leviticus scroll from Qumran cave 11.) The questions of the interview are asked by Pam Fox Kuhlken who teaches at Arizona Western College and Perelandra College. Thirteen brief chapters with snappy titles like “Show Me the Money: Buried Treasure and Other Mysteries” organize the material. Freedman calls upon his long experience in scriptural and Scroll studies as he answers questions such as: What do scholars consider the major contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Biblical scholarship? (Answer: demonstrating the value of the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible). At the end of the volume is a glossary of terms and Freedman’s suggestions for further reading.

The format of the book and the ways in which Freedman, with his lively style, words his answers make for enjoyable and easy reading. By going through the folksy text, the reader will receive an overview of many important topics in the field and Freedman’s views about them. There are also detours into areas such as Pentateuchal criticism and Freedman’s theory about a “primary history” incorporated into the Hebrew Bible. It is always a pleasure to read what Freedman thinks on these and other subjects.

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