Shorter Reviews and Notices -- Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Joseph A. Fitzmyer

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Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls, by Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J. Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah, 1992. 201 pp. $8.95 (paper). ISBN 0-8091-3348-2.

It is becoming increasingly clear that, for Jews and Christians alike, the Dead Sea Scrolls constitute the most important archaeological discovery of the twentieth century. Found in the land of Israel (or Palestine) itself and written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, these documents contain our earliest copies of Old Testament books as well as other writings vital for understanding early Judaism and nascent Christianity. Unfortunately, the vast majority have survived in an incomplete state; many fragments are no larger than a postage stamp. In view of immense public interest in the scrolls and ongoing controversies concerning their origins, Fitzmyer's book appears at an opportune time. The author is eminently qualified in this area since he has written extensively on the Dead Sea Scrolls and is editing several manuscripts for publication in the official series, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert.

In this highly readable volume, Fitzmyer responds to a wide range of questions, which fall into four broad categories: (1) discovery of the caves and contents of the scrolls (e.g., Question 9: "How did Israel acquire the seven major scrolls of Cave 1?"); (2) impact of the scrolls on the study of the Old Testament and ancient Judaism, especially the Qumran community (Question 55: "What do the QS [= Qumran Scrolls] tell us about the ritual life of the community? …