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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.
28 of 28 people found this review helpful
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
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
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.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Fascinating- thank you
Complicated matter explained by someone much involved but seemingly unbiased. Nicely narrated too.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Dead Sea Scrolls the most enjoyable?
I loved this series. The professor was most engaging and presented the information in a very clear and helpful manner. Would love to hear more from him on the DSS's.
What other book might you compare The Dead Sea Scrolls to, and why?
I loved all of Prof Flusser's books - they had some relation to the issues presented here.
Also liked 'Understanding the DSS' editor Herschel Shanks.
What does Professor Gary A. Rendsburg bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Able to take in while commuting!