Was Jesus of Nazareth a real historical person or a fictional character in a religious legend? What do the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal about the origins of Christianity? Has there been a conspiracy to suppress information in the Scrolls that contradicts traditional church teaching? John Allegro addresses these and many other intriguing questions in this fascinating account ofWas Jesus of Nazareth a real historical person or a fictional character in a religious legend? What do the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal about the origins of Christianity? Has there been a conspiracy to suppress information in the Scrolls that contradicts traditional church teaching? John Allegro addresses these and many other intriguing questions in this fascinating account of what may be the most significant archaeological discovery of the twentieth century.As one of the original scholars entrusted with the task of deciphering these ancient documents, Allegro worked on some of the most important texts, including the Biblical commentaries. In 1961, King Hussein of Jordan appointed him to be honorary advisor to the Jordanian government on the Dead Sea Scrolls. In his engaging and highly readable style, Allegro conveys the excitement of the initial archaeological find and takes the reader on a journey of intellectual discovery that goes to the heart of Western culture. Allegro suggests that Christianity evolved out of the Messianic theology of the Essenes, the Jewish sect that wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.This new edition of Allegro's book also contains an essay in which he describes the in-fighting among the scholars assigned to study the scrolls and his thirty-year battle to release all of the texts to the public. Allegro was one of the first scholars to protest the long delay in publishing the Scrolls and to criticize his colleagues for their secretive and possessive attitudes. This issue has recently been the focus of national media coverage, with the result that after forty years, open access to all of the Dead Sea Scrolls has finally been permitted.If he had lived to see it, John Allegro would have been very pleased by this resolution of the controversy. In the same spirit of free inquiry that Allegro championed, Prometheus is reissuing his book in paperback to encourage open discussion of these important ancient texts....
|Title||:||The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth|
|Number of Pages||:||278 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth Reviews
It would be interesting to read a critical biography of John Allegro in order to understand how the fellow became so antipathetic to the historical claims of the Christian story. He clearly was expert on the matters of Near Eastern religions leading up to the formation of the Church and wrote a number of conventional books on pertinent subjects. His interests in the connections between Christian and other, earlier myths were certainly legitimate, but his coming to eschew the historical claims of the faith, even to the point of questioning the existence of the teacher Yeshua (except perhaps as related to the Teacher of Righteousness from the Scrolls), isn't understandable to me. Compared to other ancient figures who didn't make it to the coinage and fine arts of their periods, Jesus is about as substantiated as anyone with the possible exceptions of Cicero and other writers whose work has come down to us.This book plays up the hypothesis of a strong Essenic connection with early Christianity. Since the Essenes aren't much known except through the writings of Philo and Josephus, and since there is nothing positively associating them with the scrolls found near the Dead Sea, it seems to me that this claim is guesswork resting on an even flimsier basis than the guesswork involved in imagining the historical Jesus. It is, however, a common hypothesis and Allegro does do some service by carrying to through to extremes.
I read this book in preparation for reading Joel Rosenberg's 'The Copper Scroll' a fictional work my sister-in-law read in one sitting—it was that captivating!Allegro, on the other hand... not so much for me. Allegro was one member of a team of scholars—and the only atheist on that team—that worked on translating the Essene scrolls found at Qumran. His premise is that Christianity evolved from Essenism and that Jesus follows in a long line of mythological personalities created by a religious spirit common to mankind. His burden is to prove such through a comparison of Scripture with the scrolls.It is a complicated read for anyone without a religious background. Allegro in large part plays with the etymology of words which although is known in hermeneutics as an uncertain science is, none-the-less, to him a rich source of mythological passwords and hidden meanings.the Essene Teacher comes from the namegiven to the publican, Zacchaeus. It is the Greek form of the Aramaic wordzakkai meaning ‘righteous, innocent’, a piece of bitter irony when applied to amember of this most detested profession among Jewish collaborators, but having avery special relevance to the Master’s title, the Righteous Teacher, or, as itis more commonly rendered, the Teacher of Righteousness. It has to be emphasisedthat in this kind of exegetical treatment of biblical texts, and its imaginativeelaboration of single words and phrases into totally unrelated stories, we arenot dealing with allegory, the portrayal of one subject under the guise ofanother. Obviously, Zacchaeus the publican does not represent the crucifiedTeacher; the town of Shechem was not a sycamore tree. But by word-play andliterary allusion it is possible to find a reference to the one from the other,and, in the eyes of the ancient commentators, still obtain for their myths somescriptural support.What the reader always needs to realize is that Allegro like any author promoting an interpretation of history/culture/theological thought—whatever they are reviewing, the writer—needs to begin somewhere with a premise assumed reasonably correct or perhaps based on another's proof texts. Allegro calls Christianity a myth and begins there to interpret the text accordingly. Obviously, if it is not myth, Allegro's entire work collapses under its own unsupportable weight.I find it interesting that he seems to commend St. Paul for St. Paul's view of Christian thought not realizing that St. Paul hung all his theology on—what he believed and maintained was—an historical event, the Resurrection. Allegro offers no corresponding reference to the Resurrection even to explain it away. Unlike Allegro, whose theorizing comes to a dead end, St. Paul found the pathway to Truth and life in Christ—the historical and real Christ whom he promoted in his writings.Well, time to start reading Rosenberg who admits his work is fiction.
A scholarly study of the essenes and gnostics through some and their writings, particularly the dead sea scrolls. Though Allegro's presentation was often engaging and full of insightful points for any biblical scholar, there were many times he broke that rhythm - either failing to develop a point he introduced or jumped too far ahead - making it harder to follow his reasoning. Nevertheless, the book is of great value in learning about the essenes, their transition to the gnostic successors, and how their myths seemed to have shaped the pre-christian philosophy and later into the attempted historical interpretation held by christians even today.
A remarkable book which proposes a plausible alternate explanation for the origins of Christianity and the numerous inconsistencies in the books of the New Testament, along with the idea that a religion like Christianity is hardly likely to have sprung from normative Judaism. Whether a reader finds the book shocking and appalling, or possible, will depend on the reader's predispositions.