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orion Wise Abegg Cook translation

For those interested, the new English-language, _The Dead Sea Scrolls_, by 
M. Wise, M. Abegg, and E. Cook (Harper Collins, 1996) represents what 
I think is the most user-friendly, up-to-date, and perhaps accurate edition 
of the scrolls in English to date.  I thought Martinez's (1994) was  
truly outstanding, one of the two events above all others in this 
decade which made the Scrolls accessible to the world, both the scholarly 
world and the interested public.  (The other truly watershed event in my 
opinion was the publication of the Brill microfiche edition of the Scrolls.)  
Martinez's edition clearly went far beyond Vermes' earlier editions, not 
simply in comprehensiveness of texts, but because Martinez's edition 
represented much original and innovative text work.  (Vermes' editions 
I have found to be almost wholly translation of earlier scholars' work, 
with all the benefits and disadvantages of the earlier scholars' work--this 
is not to criticize the early Vermes editions which in their time made the 
limited scrolls public in a way no other scholar had done.)  

So Martinez was the standard, I thought, by which any future 
comprehensive editions would be judged, stand or fall.  The Wise, 
Abegg, Cook edition just sparkles, and although it is a close 
judgment call between two outstanding editions, I think the WAC 
edition is clearly the equal, and in fact has a slight edge, over 
Martinez 1994.  Serious scrolls people should of course have both, 
without question.  But if I had to choose just one (or buy a gift for 
someone), I'd go with WAC.  Like Martinez 1994, WAC 1996 has 
sound, original text work that goes beyond earlier editions.  Beyond 
the fruits of critical text work, the translations and renderings 
shine.  I work on 4QpNah, and the pesharim are Cook's texts, but 
whenever I dip into other texts the translations elsewhere seem also 
at times almost to be art.  WAC 1996 also has the crucial text 4Q322-324b, 
An Annalistic Calendar, with references to historical persons from 
the 1st BCE (not in Martinez).

The introduction to the book (unsigned, but I understand largely the 
work of M. Wise) contains in its own right important and original 
arguments relating to issues of current discussion on orion, concerning 
dating and origins and community identity of the texts.  This is not to 
say I, or others, will agree with every argument there, but the arguments 
are good ones, whichever point on the Qumran scholarly map one locates 
oneself.  Of much interest, I think, is the argument that most of the 
texts were composed in the early- to mid-1st BCE.  (The fact of 
copying in the 1st CE and a 68 CE deposit date is not challenged.)

Finally, the tone.  These three authors convey a sense that they 
enjoyed writing it.  This book works.  I am happy that it is on the 
market available to all.

Greg Doudna