The Dead Sea Scrolls: And the Jewish Origins of Christianity

ISBN 10: 0745950507 / ISBN 13: 9780745950501
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Synopsis: A radical new perspective on the Dead Sea Scrolls by the controversial and bestselling author of The Jesus Papyrus In this exciting new book, controversial author and scholar Carsten Thiede turns his attention to perhaps the most enigmatic ancient documents ever found in the Bible lands: the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unravelling the complex history of the Scrolls since their discovery in 1947, Carsten Thiede sets them in context by revealing what scholars now know about the Essene community which originated them. He then turns his attention to the scrolls themselves. Using his own pioneering methods in restoring the papyri, Thiede has made a remarkable find amongst them: an early fragment which can be identified as part of Mark's Gospel. The connections between the Jewish Essenes and the early Christians, Thiede argues, show that the early Christians saw themselves essentially as a movement within Judaism and not as founders of a radically new religion. This perspective has major implications for the way we view not only the Scrolls themselves but also the origins of the movement that has become a major world faith, now celebrating its second millennium.

Review: Most people know that the Dead Sea Scrolls exist, and most people have a vague idea that they contain some sort of secrets about the early days of Christianity and about a crucial period of Jewish history. But most of the literature pertaining to the scrolls is written in scholarly jargon that is all but impenetrable to the general reader. For a straightforward, who-what-when-where orientation to the scrolls and their significance in early Christianity, lay people are lucky to have The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity by Carsten Peter Thiede. The book begins by providing basic information about the scrolls. They were written by an orthodox Jewish sect called the Essenes between 150 B.C. and A.D. 68. They are written in Hebrew and Aramaic (the language that Jesus spoke). And they were known by other ancient writers, including Origen, an influential theologian in the early Church, until at least the third century. Although most of Thiede's book reviews basic information, his arguments are by no means bland. Readers already familiar with the scrolls will be challenged by Thiede's argument that cutting-edge, microscopic analysis has revealed previously unnoticed texts in the scrolls; and readers coming to the scrolls for the first time will have to reckon with his invitation "to develop a new awareness of [Christianity's] roots"--in other words, to attempt to overcome "2,000 years of mainly anti-Jewish church history," in order to grapple with the fact that "Christianity is Jewish." --Michael Joseph Gross

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Carsten Peter Thiede
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