The hymns of the Qumran sect, now completely translated and accessible to the layman for the first time, give readers an authentic feeling of what the scrolls are like. They also offer a moving insight into an ancient mode and mood of worship as well as haunting echoes of Biblical psalms. Excerpts:

Yea, I am in distress

as a woman in travail

bringing forth her firstborn,

when, as her time draws near,

the pangs come swiftly upon her

and all the grievous throes

that rack those heavy with child.

For now, amid throes of death,

new life is coming to birth,

and the...

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