The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible is required reading for anyone who is curious about comparing different Bible versions. To get the most out of the experience, I suggest reading this book side by side with another version. This book is the oldest known scripture translation from the three languages of the Bible: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. There is a chart in the beginning of the book that delineates the three canons (list of Bible books) used today: Jewish Bible (Tanak), Protestant Old Testament and Roman Catholic Old Testament, and the Bible book groupings that each uses.
The authors' impressive credentials make the read even more enjoyable, because we know they know their business. Martin Abegg and Peter Flint are co-directors of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute. Eugene Ulrich is a professor at Notre Dame University and is one of the principal editors of the Qumran biblical texts.
Readers familiar with scholarly books will have no trouble with the notations within the text and as footnotes. This may at first be intimidating to the average reader; hang in there, because those notes actually wind up making what you are reading easier to understand.
The principles used to layout this book show an enormous amount of research and attention to detail. The authors strive to:
The book of Jubilees is fascinating to those of us who are Protestants and therefore unfamiliar with this ancient Jewish work. It recounts the bare bones of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus, but puts in and leaves out interesting pieces of well-known biblical accounts.
- Keep the Books in historical order
- Provide introductory information
- Depend on large manuscripts
- Compile information from many manuscripts
- Notate various readings
- Highlight new passages
- Maintain accuracy even if it sacrifices style
Ben Sira (Sirach) is by Jesus ben Sira, a Jewish teacher whose book of wise sayings and instructions were recorded in Hebrew near 190 BCE. It is very interesting that in the original Hebrew some portions can only be described as titillating and erotic, while the Greek translation focuses on more circumspect aspects more suited to conservative religious views.
The Epistle of Jeremiah is one of the three books from the Apochrypha, along with Sirach and Tobit. These books are recognized only by the Roman Catholic Church and not by the Jewish or Protestant Churches. The Epistle of Jeremiah was written under the guise of musings by a famous person without any input on his part. Tobit is a story of a resident of Nineveh in late eight century BCE who faces many trials which finally result in blindness. It is an entrancing story that has weathered the many years well.
A heartfelt "thank you" goes out to the authors for providing access to translations of the manuscripts that are more than a thousand years older than any version ever available previously. For the studious among us, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible provides an opportunity to exercise our gray cells on valuable, fascinating material that, but for a quirk of fate, could have been lost forever.