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The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Very Short Introduction

Timothy Lim

Publication Date - January 2006

ISBN: 9780192806598

152 pages

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $11.95


Everyone has heard of of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but amidst the conspiracies, the politics, and the sensational claims, it can be difficult to separate myth from reality. Here, Timothy Lim explores the cultural and historical background of the scrolls, and examines their significance for our understanding of the Old Testament and the origins of Christianity and Judaism. Lim tells the fascinating story of the scrolls since their discouvery; their cultural context through the archaeology and history of the Dead Sea region. He explains the science behind their deciphering and dating, and does not omit the cast of characters, scandals, and controversies that have hastened the scrolls' rise to the status of cultrual icon.

Beginning with their discovery in the 1940s, through the political, legal, and scholary controversies that still persist today, public interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls has remained exceptionally high. This is an accessible and well-written mini-history that will appeal to anyone interested in the true history of these fascinating documents.


  • Introduces the historical and cultural context of the scrolls, through the archaeology and history of the Dead Sea region 2,000 years ago.
  • Provides an accessible account of the leading interpretations of the scrolls, and how they have changed the way we understand the emergence of the Old Testament, Ancient Judaism, and Early Christianity.
  • Discusses the scrolls' rise to the status of cultural icon, beginning with their discovery in the 1940s, to the political, legal, and scholarly controversies that still persist today.

About the Author(s)

Timothy Lim is Reader in Hebrew and Old Testament Studies at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, and is a widely recognized expert in the field. His research has ranged from aspects of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, to sectarianism, the history of the calendar, and ancient science. He is the author of Holy Scripture in the Qumran Commentaries and Pauline Letters (OUP, 1997), and is Principal Editor of Volume 1 of the official digitised edition of the scrolls entitled The Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Reference Library (1997, OUP and Brill Academic Publishers). He has made numerous media appearances to promote the public understanding of religion.


"...an excellent, brief, but thorough introduction... Lim provides an authoritative guide to the contents and significance of the scrolls as ancient documents of major religious importance. That would be enough to ask, but he also provides a fascinating account of how these documents have played a role in modern copyright law and have become a focus for polemically tinged religious conspiracy theories. What a story!" - Carol A. Newsom, C. H. Candler Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Emory University

Table of Contents

    1. The Dead Sea Scrolls as Cultural Icon
    2. The Dead Sea Scrolls in their Historical Context
    3. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hebrew Bible
    4. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Ancient Judaism
    5. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Christianity