The authors’ basic thesis is this: thenrole of the Essenes, usually thought of asna pacifistie, celibate, monastic community,nhas been misunderstood and misinterpretednsince the days of the Jewishnhistorian turned Roman propagandist,nJosephus. hi reality they were both marriednand militant and were involved innthe great revolts against Rome. Jesusnhimself may not have been a militant,nbut he was a zealot for the Law and wasnprobably put to death, more or less legitimately,nas a political troublemaker.nThe Apostle Paul was a kind of doublenagent, probably in Roman pay, and protectednby the Romans from the Jewishnreligious authorities in a program similarnto our government’s witness protectionnplan. Nothing could be more evident tonthem than the fact that Paul totallyntransformed the program of Jesus intonsomething that Jesus himself would havenrepudiated, making of him a divine Saviornand eventually the incarnate Son ofnGod.nReaders unfamiliar with the field maynwonder at the fact that apparently virtuallynall of the scholars who have dealtnwith the scrolls share the consensus view,nwhich Baigent and Leigh call a conspiracynto deceive. They rely rather heavilynon the work of Professor Robert Eisenmannnof California State University,nLong Beach, and of the late J. M. Allegro.nEisenmann and Allegro have impressivencredentials in Near Easternnstudies, although Allegro gained the reputationnof being a crank when he publishednThe Sacred Mushroom and thenCross in 1970. Baigent and Leigh makenmuch of the fact that Allegro alonenamong the early investigators was not religiouslyncommitted, but was an agnostic.nDoes this make him less partisannthan the Catholics? Allegro’s deathnleaves Eisenmann as the chief survivingn”iconoclast,” and the only really scholarlynwitness for the authors’ case.nhi short, Baigent and Leigh write annimpressive thriller. They plainly have anstrong bias against the Roman CatholicnChurch, which plays the role of chiefnconspirator throughout. They present asnassured fact certain things that are at thenleast debatable, such as the thesis thatnthe Cospel writers and early Christiansndevised miracle stories to enable theirnJesus to compete with Adonis and othernNear Eastern savior-figures, or that Paulnturned the teachings of Jesus upsidendown. When they subsequently find evidencenof a massive pan-Christian con­n36/CHRONICLESnspiracy, with some Jewish complicity, tonundergird their assertions, the resemblancento Oliver Stone’s ]FK becomesnpatent.nThe Dead Sea Scrolls Deception is indeednfascinating reading. Fortunately fornthose of us who are not enthusiasticnabout having to throw out traditionalnChristian doctrines about the origins ofnthe faith, the book includes enough internalnevidence to make it plain thatnthe authors’ impartiality is at least asnsuspect as that of those they judge tonhave been conspirators. When MichaelnDrake of the Belfast Telegraph callednit “a great detective story” on the dustnjacket, he spoke well. It’s a great story;nbut a story, not history.nHarold O./. Brown is the director ofnThe Rockford Institute Center onnReligion and Society, and FormannProfessor of Theology and Ethics atnTrinity Evangelical Divinity School innDeerfield, Illinois.nNew PoetrynFrom Italynby Peter RussellnNew Italian PoetsnEdited by Dana Cioia andnMichael FalmanBrownsville, Oregon: Story Line Press;n336 pp., $16.95nFlorence’s La Nazione, a sober conservativendaily with a national circulationnand founded at the time of thenAmerican Civil War, stated on Novembern2, 1991, that more than 10 percentnof Italians today are fully occupied inn”organized crime” (not counting politiciansnand the legal profession). “Organizedncrime,” in Italy, doesn’t mean independentn”self-employed” criminals,nbut is a term for the now dominantnforce in Italian society—the Mafia, then’ndrangheta, and the camorra. Only anyear or so ago, the same newspaper publishedna statement by a leading judgenwho said the Mafia, etc., did not exist.nTen percent seems a modest proportionnand surprises nobody. Are not 10 percentnof the population bank workers, 10npercent accountants, 10 percent journalistsnor communications workers, ornnnfactory workers, and so on? All of this isnquite normal and calls for no comment.nBut over the past thirty years a new professionnhas risen to prominence. At leastn20 percent of Italians are poets. In StefanonLanuzza’s Guida ai poeti italianindegli anni ottanta, more than a thousandnrenowned poets are discussed, and thatnis only the creme de la creme. For yearsnnow people have been saying that, innItaly, there is a “boom” in poetry. Thensnag, as Lanuzza says, is that there arenno readers. If you go into a bookstorenand ask for poetry they will refer you tonthe schoolbook section, where you willnfind Dante (but rarely Petrarch), Leopardi,nand—if you are lucky—Montale,nbut little else. Maybe too, an anthologynof three hundred pages that will be usednfor the next sixty years to represent thenwhole of Italian literature.nBut poetry is in the news. Poets arenexhibited on the popular television programs,nand every small town has its poetrynfestivals with prizes. The fact, ofncourse, is that in a postindustrial, consumernage, anyone who has the will, thenenergy, the egoism, or simply the moneynto pay for a book to be printed, is anpoet. Now, while I believe with all mynheart that in every human being a poetnis latent, I do not think that the mechanicalnprocess of reproduction is thenthing that makes a poet. It is one thingnto have poetic feelings, another to writena successful poem. It is one thing tonimagine a comfortable pair of shoes, anothernto be able to make one. Poetry isna skill, a technique.nDana Cioia’s ne.w and valuable anthologyndoes not fall into any of thesenpitfalls. Mr. Gioia is one of America’snmost accomplished critics as well as annoutstanding younger poet, and, as angood business executive, he knows justnwhat he is doing. Out of a few hundrednpossible names he has chosen ten- wellknownnones, essentially “Establishment”nfigures. This book is worth its value inngood old greenbacks for just DananCioia’s introduction, let alone for thenthree hundred pages of contemporarynpoetry up to now not known in thenUnited States. Anyone who has lived innItaly for nearly half a century, as I have,nmay raise his eyebrows at the inclusionnof Maria Luisa Spaziani among “newnItalian poets” (she’s almost as old as I!),nbut in fact Gioia’s selection of her is justified,nfor she is not as well-known as shenought to be. She is “new,” not only tonthe American audience, but even to then