John Marco Allegro


Book Details

Author  Judith Anne Brown
Publisher  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Publication Date   March 1, 2005
Pages  288

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This book is the first to fully explore the life and ideas of John Marco Allegro (1923–1988), freethinker and rebel, whose work on the Dead Sea Scrolls led him to challenge the church, the team of scholars in charge of editing the Scrolls, and most conventional assumptions about the development of Christianity.

As the first British member of the Scrolls editing team, Allegro shared the excitement, the insights, and the eyestrain of deciphering these invaluable ancient fragments. He made it possible for the Copper Scroll to be opened in Manchester and did much to focus worldwide attention on the Scrolls as a whole. But he made his name — or gained his notoriety — from questioning orthodox assumptions about how Christianity began.

Allegro's views soon set him apart from fellow Scrolls scholars and even from the church itself. He asked questions that many people found disturbing if not outrageous. He wondered, for example, about the interweaving of history, myth, faith, and tradition in the New Testament, and about the nature of the church's authority. Allegro went on challenging the establishment all his life, and he relished the arguments he provoked. For over thirty years he campaigned for open access to the Scrolls and for wider debate about their significance. To him it was a campaign for free speech and free opinion.

Judith Anne Brown's John Marco Allegro is a fascinating, probing, inside account of this man of ideas who was independent, irrepressible, and, above all, always original. Making extensive use of Allegro's letters, lecture notes, draft manuscripts, and other previously unpublished writings, Brown brings to life anew the extraordinary discoveries and debates that began in the caves by the Dead Sea over half a century ago.

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