The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls, by Gary Rendsburg (The Teaching Company) ★★★★
This lecture series was a fairly comprehensive introduction to the history of the discovery and research on the Dead Sea scrolls, but also a lengthy discussion of the various factions in Jewish society around the 200BC to 100AD time period in Palestine. Rendsburg was delightful to listen to, and remained fairly even in his discussion, always being willing to admit and to discuss alternative interpretations and division in the field of Dead Sea scroll research. It is believed that the scrolls were the product of the Qumram community, who lived in a small community (about 200-300 people) on the northwest side of the Dead Sea. Rendsburg removes much of the mystery as to why it took so long for many of the scrolls to be published, as well as the actual contents of the scrolls. Besides numerous copies of the OT scriptures, many scrolls detail the rules of life within the (presumed) Qumram community and various other writings of the community. Interestingly, one scroll was even a so-called treasure map, describing the various location of vast amounts of gold and silver, none of which has been found. Unlike many of the religious lecture series from the Teaching Company where the lecturer presents a single opinion on any subject, Rendsburg was quite engaging in discussing the Dead Sea scroll subject with true academic humility, often admitting that many questions remained unanswered.