Beginning with the question, What have we learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls after 50 years of study, this book does not intend to present brand new discoveries, but rather presents a discovery made 50 years ago that everyone has heard at least something about already, and so takes the reader through the past 50 years decade by decade, highlighting key events and accomplishments in scrolls scholarship. The core chapters concentrate on a specific area where the scrolls have made a distinctive contribution in how we think about key questions in the development of early Judaism and early Christianity. In each chapter a few specific passages are discussed, so that the reader can become familiar with the actual text of the scrolls themselves. The specific areas discussed are Scriptures and how biblical writing was formed, transmitted and interpreted, then Prayers, hymns and liturgies found in the scrolls are discussed looking at their significance for our understanding of the development of Jewish and Christian worship, and finally in chapter 4 we draw on both text and archeological materials to demonstrate that contrary to certain early claims that this was a male, celibate, misogynist group, the scrolls in fact provide considerable information about women.
Eileen Schuller, since the early 1980s, has been involved in the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. She was assigned a section of texts that belong to the "prayers and psalms" category. She is currently working on a book on Prayers, Hymns, Psalms and Liturgies for the series, The Literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as this book with SCM Press.