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The Dead Sea Scrolls

Narrated by: Gary A. Rendsburg
Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.7 out of 5 stars (120 ratings)

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Editor reviews

The Dead Sea Scrolls is a historical audiobook by The Great Courses in their Comparative & World Religion Series and is narrated by leader in Jewish Studies, Professor Gary A. Rendsburg. This was one of the most significant archaeological finds in human history. The Dead Sea Scrolls' discovery and translation has provided profound insight into the history of ancient Judaism, Christianity and the way of life for ancient civilisations. In these 24 lectures, listeners are given unprecedented knowledge of everything the discovery of these scrolls has come to mean to our understanding of ancient times. Available now from Audible.

Summary

Whether complete or only fragmentary, the 930 extant Dead Sea Scrolls irrevocably altered how we look at and understand the foundations of faith and religious practice. Now you can get a comprehensive introduction to this unique series of archaeological documents, and to scholars' evolving understanding of their authorship and significance, with these 24 lectures. Learn what the scrolls are, what they contain, and how the insights they offered into religious and ancient history came into focus.

In following the extraordinary story of how the scrolls were acquired and ultimately published - a story fully 40 years in its unfolding - you'll also explore an almost unlimited treasure trove of new facts and insights. Throughout the lectures, you'll learn about these and other topics: the only historical instance of the Jews ever forcibly converting a conquered people to Judaism; the rare stroke of scholarly fortune represented in the discovery of the first seven scrolls sealed in jars; and the extraordinary intrigue (sometimes spanning generations) that overlays the story of the scrolls.

At the heart of this series are the documents themselves. You'll spend a wealth of time reading parts of the actual scrolls in English translation, training your eye to uncover the salient religious practices and intriguing theological ideas expressed in these documents. By the conclusion of the final lecture, you'll have developed a newfound understanding and appreciation of an unprecedented historical find and its enduring influence on the way we think about - and talk about - ancient Judaism and Christianity.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

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Excellent: Much More Than The Dead Sea Scrolls

I had some misgivings about a whole lecture course on the Dead Sea Scrolls but my concerns were unfounded. A significant amount of the course involves very clear presentations of relevant parts of ancient history, a discussion of ancient Jewish sects etc -- which I found very helpful and very interesting even though I had encountered most of the material before in previous courses I have listened to. Professor Rendsburg is clearly deeply fascinated by and enthusiastic about the Dead Sea Scrolls and this comes through very clearly. The presentation is peppered with personal anecdotes which worked well for me in making this topic accessible. The course interweaves background, archeological information and historical background with detailed discussions of specific scrolls, and this back-and-forth kept my interest level very high. I found the course compelling and fascinating and recommend it highly. As for all of the Great Courses, I recommend looking at the Great Courses web site which contains more detail on course content including titles of each lecture -- and additional reviews.

20 people found this helpful

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Superb course about game changing documents

"Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars typically viewed Judaism through a single lens, namely the Rabbinic one since the rabbis would emerge as the dominant stream within Judaism after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE at the hands of the Romans... The Dead Sea Scrolls changed all of that... Finally we have the voice of a specific Jewish sect from the first century BCE – that is a half century before the life of Jesus – from a century before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. And with these texts we finally realise how little we knew about the period… The Dead Sea Scrolls have provided information in every area including theological beliefs, the calendar, religious practises, daily life and much more." These soundbytes from the end of lecture one give an idea of how important this subject is. Professor Gary Rendsburg is a brilliant teacher. Accessible but erudite, he presents the material in a great way, telling lots of fascinating stories and anecdotes about the main players (including goats) and even quoting a little Hebrew so we can hear what the game-changing scrolls sounded like when read in the original language. I loved this course and have listened to it twice. It's one of the best things Audible has to offer.

3 people found this helpful

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Fascinating!

I learned so much and found myself listening to certain chapters again and again to ensure that I’d caught all the interesting information! Brilliant stuff!

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very informative and interesting

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in either history or in religion. the topics covered set the Dead Sea Scrolls in the context nicely. I feel it doesn't matter if you are a complete novice to the atopic or have some good understanding you can learn a lot from these lectures

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Excellent

Very interesting and informative. Very accessible to the layperson. Well read and easy to listen to.

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Dead Sea Scrolls

Fascinating- thank you
Complicated matter explained by someone much involved but seemingly unbiased. Nicely narrated too.

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Very good

Very broad and interesting review of this sect. It could do with a more understanding of the Roman way towards the sect.

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What an amazing story told by a global authority

I chose this book to learn about the foundation stones of many of the worlds religions. I achieved that plus learned to much about the history of the region and thinking of the people. Utterly captivating.

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a star off because of narrator-dont be discouraged

Seems if the subject is religious the authors get quite animated at times. fascinating. interesting. loved it

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Great insight

If you are interested in history of the church you may find this interesting as I did and I am a none believer and still enjoyed it. It's not going to be for everyone though.

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  • BBraun
  • 15-01-15

Have Listened to it twice

Listening to this book was amazing- I listened to it twice. It gave me many insights into the scrolls. I am very much hooked on "The Great Courses" series. Professor Rendsburg is very easy to listen to and one can hear his passion for his subject.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Jacobus
  • 25-09-13

A comprehensive overview of the Qumran Scrolls

While not as focussed as his course on the 'book of Genesis' (probably because of this study field being vast) Prof. Gary A. Rensburg does a splendid job in introducing the Dead Sea Scrolls in 24 lectures aimed at those who are almost ignorant of this material.

He covers various aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, from how and when it was found, to its ancient history, its significance and contributions to especially Old Testament/ Tanach scholarship as well as halackhic (Jewish law) issues. Prof. Rendsburg represents and presents the majority view of scholars throughout this course. In lecture 12 he engages with significant as well as sensational alternative views and claims that have surfaced over the years. The course is structured around all of the important Dead Sea Scrolls and Prof. Rendsburg often quotes and discuss these scrolls' content.

A great strength that is sometimes absent from similar introductions is the bird's eye-view of everyday life at Qumran that Prof. Rendsburg provides. On the other hand he significantly downplays the controversy that surrounded the scrolls since its discovery.

When comparing this course to a similar course in the 'Modern Scholar Series' presented by Prof. Lawrence Schiffman, I find that the two courses covers almost the same content with different accents often complementing each other. Because both scholars are Jewish, it does seem that their focus and I presume passion, is more on the Jewish significance of the scrolls. Prof. Schiffman seems to have a better grasp on the New Testament and how the Dead Sea Scrolls enlightens it. On the other hand Prof. Rendsburg's presentation is more polished than Prof. Schiffman's. I would suggest for someone interested in the Scrolls also to obtain Prof. John J Collin's 'The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography.'

If you are interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls and want an comprehensive overview, this course comes highly recommended.

76 people found this helpful

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  • S
  • 04-08-18

Fascinating and Thorough

If you're looking for some kind of conspiracy theory about how the Dead Sea Scrolls have cast doubt on traditional theologies, this is not your book. What this book does deliver is factual information that is coloured by interesting contextual details and an atmosphere that is almost like worship. The delivery is in traditional academic style (which can be off-putting to some) but is tempered with a warmth that I did not expect from this work. I found this book interesting as well as inspiring. It makes me want to know more!

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  • Luís
  • 15-11-14

Deep dive into one of the most intriguing subjects

Where does The Dead Sea Scrolls rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The best one from three that I've already listened to.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dead Sea Scrolls?

There were many of them, especially the ones when the historical facts from the discovery of those manuscripts were linked with some profound changes to the "mainstream academic knowledge" of the times around the dates of the writings that were found and studied through the lectures. The readings of the translation of some of the texts were very insightful, they gave a sense of freedom of interpretation to the listeners, but still managed to present the scholar point of view of the author.

Have you listened to any of Professor Gary A. Rendsburg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

That was my first listening of Professor Rendsburg, and I intend to listen to more of his classes, if available!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Well, not really, because of the extension of the material being over 12 hours. In fact, I believe that I've listened to about 18-20 hours, because I repeated sometimes a whole lecture that was too fascinating to be stuck to only one hearing...

Any additional comments?

My best purchase to the date!

22 people found this helpful

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  • Jo
  • 24-07-16

a complete and comprehensive review that educates

having listened to dr. schiffman's course, I was prepared for the content. However, this newer and richer presentation was stunning in its completeness and the neutrality and integrity shown by the presenter. This is really worth listening to if you have any interest in Judaism, Christianity, or the history of the Middle

10 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 06-12-13

Very Well Done & Not One Sided

Where does The Dead Sea Scrolls rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I really enjoy the series as contained in "The Great Courses" series. Of course some of the presentations are better than others. The Dead Sea Scrolls is the best of the many I have purchased.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dead Sea Scrolls?

I have always had an interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls. I admit that I sort of expected a tinge of Jewish Religion flavor in this course but there was none. A very scholally & honest presentation. Really well done.

What does Professor Gary A. Rendsburg bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

This gifted Professor is one I will follow. He is on the side of pure Accidemics. A pleasure to listen to & he has really helped me understand the value of this 1947 discovery. I am not Jewish but this course has greatly helped me to understand ancient thought & practice. The Professor would be a person I'd love to have a coffee with! An honest person! ND John

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The Greatest Find of the 20th Century Explained.

Any additional comments?

I bow my head towards Professor Rendsburg. He has handled a very difficult subject very objectfully. Thank You, ND John

28 people found this helpful

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  • Attackgirl
  • 17-06-15

Excellent presentation

I would have like to have a classroom lecture of this material complete with books / references now all I can do is go look it up. Thank you

8 people found this helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 10-03-15

Dead Sea scrolls

Great, informative and well presented well narrated and an engaging listen that was riveting from start to end. Well worth

6 people found this helpful

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  • dayyoung
  • 27-05-15

Good listen

You could tell he knew the information he presented. He made it come to life.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Cindy
  • 09-11-13

Ever wonder about them?

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not meant to be listened to in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

This is a college course. You will be entering a classroom. I loved it! Learning should never stop because we grow up.

11 people found this helpful