Friday, December 17, 2004

"The Dead Sea Scrolls": The last shall be first

I have been reading this morning the tribute "Geza and the Dead Sea Scrolls" by Phillip Alexander, part of a birthday series of lectures now on-line (link courtesy of Paleojudaica).

The lecture is a worthy tribute to a great scholar; in my own two fields of specialty, Qumran and Targum, he is a giant. I was amused, though, and -- why not admit it? -- delighted at the following remark, referring to Vermes's translation of the Qumran texts:
It has held its own against all its competitors, indeed seen them off (Gaster, Cook et al., Garcia Martinez and others), and is still, I would guess, the most commonly cited version.

"Cook et al."! God bless you, Phil Alexander. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, when not credited to all three of us, is usually referred to as "Wise et al." or sometimes (as here) just "Wise." The last shall be first, indeed!

By the way, it is not quite true that Vermes's excellent translation has "seen off" our work. Wise-Abegg-Cook has been incorporated into many of the translations provided with the new multivolume Dead Sea Scrolls Reader (see here). Also, I can tell you that the three of us are currently at work on a new, enlarged and updated edition of the book. Look for it next year or in 2006.

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