The Dead Sea Scrolls were concealed in caves for 2,000 years, until they were accidentally recovered in 1947. Many claim that they have been concealed by scholars in modern libraries and offices ever since.
Four scholars involved in the publication of the scrolls will discuss the documents contribution to modern understandings of ancient Judaism, early Christianity and the history of the Bible in a series of free, public lectures here this fall.
The documents, composed or copied during the 200 years leading up to and encompassing the life of Jesus, include some of the oldest portions of the Tanakh or Old Testament, selections from the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha of modern Protestant and Catholic bibles, commentary on the scriptures, and other writings of the Jewish sect known in antiquity as the Essenes, according to Assistant Prof. Brian B. Schmidt.
After the recovery of the scrolls, an international team of scholars was assembled to edit and publish the texts. But some Biblical scholars and historians have objected that the team was too slow, and more concerned with keeping other scholars away from the documents than they were with publishing them. The U-M lecture series is designed to address some of the controversies surrounding publication of the scrolls, Schmidt says.
The first lecture, by Hebrew University Prof. Emanuel Tov at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 in Rackham Auditorium, will address the contribution of the manuscripts of the Bible found among the scrolls to modern views of the history of the text of the Old Testament or Tanakh. Tov was appointed editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project by the Israeli Antiquities Authority in 1991.
The other lectures in the series, all to begin at 7 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium, are:
Oct. 13: James C. Vanderkam, professor of Old Testament at the University of Notre Dame, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament.
Nov. 16: Lawrence H. Schiffman, professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Ancient Judaism.
Nov. 30: Philip R. Davies, senior reader in Biblical studies at the University of Sheffield (England), The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran Community.
The series is sponsored by the following U-M units: Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies; Departments of Classical Studies, History and Near Eastern Studies; Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; Institute for the Humanities; Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies; Office of Ethics and Religion; Program on Studies in Religion; LS&A; and Office of the Vice President for Research.