Biblical Archaeology Review 6:4, July/August 1980

The Last Legacy of Roland de Vaux

By Nahum M. Sarna

To English-speaking readers, the late French scholar Roland de Vaux, is known mainly as the author of Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions,1 that massive, erudite, skillfully synthesized, and panoramic treatment of the various forms through which the social, political and religious life of the people of Israel found expression in Biblical times. This standard reference work could only have been written by someone who was at once an accomplished historian of the ancient Near Eastern world, a creative Biblical exegete and a practiced archaeologist. De Vaux was all three. And his long association with the Dominican École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem gave him the opportunity to sharpen his skills and deepen his knowledge through a first—hand and intimate familiarity with the lands of the Bible. He edited the prestigious scholarly journal Revue Biblique for fifteen fruitful years; he was editor-in-chief of the celebrated Jerusalem Bible and editor-in-chief of Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, the series in which the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran are being published. Indeed it was de Vaux himself who excavated Qumran and identified the site with the center of the Essene sect as described by the Roman natural historian, Pliny (23–79 A.D.).

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