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.
While not as focussed as his course on the 'book of Genesis' (probably because of this study field being vast) Prof. Gary A. Rensburg does a splendid job in introducing the Dead Sea Scrolls in 24 lectures aimed at those who are almost ignorant of this material.
He covers various aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, from how and when it was found, to its ancient history, its significance and contributions to especially Old Testament/ Tanach scholarship as well as halackhic (Jewish law) issues. Prof. Rendsburg represents and presents the majority view of scholars throughout this course. In lecture 12 he engages with significant as well as sensational alternative views and claims that have surfaced over the years. The course is structured around all of the important Dead Sea Scrolls and Prof. Rendsburg often quotes and discuss these scrolls' content.
A great strength that is sometimes absent from similar introductions is the bird's eye-view of everyday life at Qumran that Prof. Rendsburg provides. On the other hand he significantly downplays the controversy that surrounded the scrolls since its discovery.
When comparing this course to a similar course in the 'Modern Scholar Series' presented by Prof. Lawrence Schiffman, I find that the two courses covers almost the same content with different accents often complementing each other. Because both scholars are Jewish, it does seem that their focus and I presume passion, is more on the Jewish significance of the scrolls. Prof. Schiffman seems to have a better grasp on the New Testament and how the Dead Sea Scrolls enlightens it. On the other hand Prof. Rendsburg's presentation is more polished than Prof. Schiffman's. I would suggest for someone interested in the Scrolls also to obtain Prof. John J Collin's 'The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography.'
If you are interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls and want an comprehensive overview, this course comes highly recommended.
At first i was afraid this was going to be a scholarly, semi-atheist / reform approach to the talmud, but the quality is great. It's also very informative and has plenty of tales to keep you entertained.
Now about the subject matter.... it is indeed an attractive theory.
Worth a listen even for the orthodox (like myself)!