When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
Prof. Lawrence H Schiffman gives an excellent well-balanced and honest overview of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the situation surrounding its discovery and its meaning to Western Civilisation in general and to Judaism and Christianity in particular in 14 lectures. Be sure to download the PDF file with the course guide to gain the most from this presentation. The course could probably have been called "Qumran 101."
Except for his enthusiasm and ear catching presentation, Schiffman came over very knowledgeable and was able to convince me why he is one of the leading scholars on the Qumran community and its library as well as Second Temple Judaism. During the course he is not scared to share and even advocate his own views on certain important issues, i.e. the Sadducee origin of the Qumran community. He was also able to argue his views clearly (although, I don't buy the Sadducee origin of the Qumran sect).
Schiffman always balances his own hypotheses with the majority stance of scholars, thus informing the listener what we can say responsibly about the Scrolls and the mystique surrounding it. He also debunks some of the more outrageous speculation surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls very effectively.
What I liked a lot about this course is that the relevant material (the scrolls' contents, Josephus, Philo, archaeological artefacts etc.) are the basis from which Schiffman presents his arguments. He engages the scrolls and other material to let it speak as far as possible for itself. I didn't get the idea that his Jewishness clouded his critical academical scholarship. He doesn't force a Jewish agenda. He presents sensitive information not only as objective as possible but also with the necessary empathy and clarity. I was pleasantly surprised by his approach.
Of "The Modern Scholar" lecture series that I have listened to so far, I find prof. Schiffman's lectures on the Dead Sea Scrolls not only informative and well-balanced but some of the best so far. I would recommend these easy-to-follow lectures to anyone interested in the enigma of the Dead Scrolls.
His commentary on 1 and 2 Maccabees in the HarperCollins Bible Commentary is also to be recommended for further background reading to the lay person.
During a third year Hebrew class on the Dead Sea Scrolls I took note that the Damascus Document came from a genizah (a room in a Jewish synagogue where mainly worn scrolls and other writings are held) in Cairo. It was a cursory meeting with the Cairo Genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue.
At long last, a book that brings the story of the discovery of this genizah and its treasure to the general listener/ reader! As far as I know this is the only popular academical book on this subject.
Rabbi Glickman does an excellent job of pulling the reader into the story. He gives an overview from its time of discovery in the 1890's (or... perhaps a few centuries earlier) to the current state of the genizah scholarship. This makes this books indispensable for both Jews, Christians and Muslims (not only Jews and Muslims, as the rabbi sometimes seem to imply.)
When it comes to the reading of the text, Rabbi Glickman's warm voice definitely more than suffices in bringing the intrigues around this discovery to life. However, it seems that he sometimes want to stop at a few awkward places in his sentences. I couldn't decide if he was trying to read to quick and them ran out of breath or if he had overcome a speech impediment. Yet it doesn't take away his warm-hearted invitation to the Cairo Genizah.
In summary, this book about the discovery and implication of the Cairo Genizah is long overdue. Rabbi Mark Glickman masterly immerse you in almost the next best discovery to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Prof. F.E. Peters has studied the three monotheistic or Abrahamic religions for most of his life. He is not only a well accomplished scholar, but also an excellent teacher.
In The Modern Scholar: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, he gives an overview of the three religions from how believers of these religions would approach these faiths. In the first few lectures he gives an overview of each religion and later on he identifies certain institutions and practises that when compares functions very much the same. He tries to present this information in as unbiased manner as possible, in which he greatly succeeds.
I enjoyed the lectures and I thought that the PDF-booklet that accompanied the lectures were excellent. While I felt at times that Prof. Peters should have spend a little bit more time on the one or other issue, I realise that the few instances were a matter of personal taste.
I highly recommend these lectures. It helps you to gain an insightful perspective on the three religions which one is only able to attain when you compare them with each other. Obviously your own perspective on each of these religions might inform your experience of Prof. Peters' approach i.e. if you believe Islam are from Satan, you might feel that he is too apologetic towards it. Yet, from a sound scholarly approach, Prof. Peters created a set of lectures that is unbiased, well-researched and might stimulate more open dialogue between the three faiths.