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76 SHOFAR Winter 1996 Vol. 14, No.2 FOCUS ON TEACHING Teaching the Dead Sea Scrolls! by David S. Williams University of Georgia It is no secret that the Dead Sea Scrolls are a "hot topic."2 Such is the hunger for information about them that I have been asked to give at least one public lecture on the subject every year since I began teaching. More to the point, I have noticed much student interest in the scrolls, and have repeatedly encountered questions concerning them in class sessions on Judaisrr0ewish Studies. Because many of those who teach Jewish Studies are specialists in fields that do not touch Jewish literature, much less ancient scrolls, the following material is being provided to assist anyone who could benefit from an initial exposure to the scrolls. While I have no illusions that this paper will lead to whole courses being devoted to the scrolls, hopefully the information presented below will at least be of assistance in handling student questions. In addition, I have arranged the material so that a 'This paper is a revised version of a presentation given in a session entitled "Teaching Classic Jewish Texts" at the 1994 annual conference of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association. I would like to thank the chair ofthat session, Professor Robert Melson (purdue University), for convincing me of the need for a presentation on teaching the Dead Sea Scrolls. 'The label, "Dead Sea Scrolls," may be understood in both narrow and broad ways. The narrow meaning-and the more common one-refers to the collection of scrolls found in me caves close to Qumran, a site near the northwest comer of the Dead Sea. The broad meaning refers to all textual materials found in the region oftheJudaean Desert. This latter reference would include not only the Qumran scrolls, but also some documents associated with Bar Kokhba and the texts found at Masada, as well as some other finds. My uses of the terms "Dead Sea Scrolls" and "scrolls" in this paper are exclusively limited to the narrow meaning-the Qumran scrolls. Teaching the Dead Sea Scrolls 77 sample lecture outline is provided for those who do wish to incorporate the scrolls into their class structures. In my view, the most "user-friendly" of the introductory sources on the scrolls are the following: • J. A. Fitzmyer, Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Paulist Press, 1992), 201 + xviii pp. ISBN 08091 -3348-2. • J. c. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 210 + xiii pp. ISBN 0-281-04774-X. The presentation below is keyed to these books, so that interested readers may quickly and easily find further pertinent information.3 The sources will be identified by the first initial of the author's last name: F =Fitzmyer and V = VanderKam. (please note that the numerical references given below represent question numbers for F but page numbers for V.) I. Discoveries A The first scrolls (F 4-6; V 2-8) • Some scrolls were discovered in 1947, in a cave beside the Dead Sea. Eventually, they were acquired by Israel. In early 1947, Bedouin shepherds explored a cave near the ruins of Qumran at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea. They took some scrolls from the cave to an antique dealer in Bethlehem. In all, there were seven documents: two copies ofIsaiah; a commentary on Habakkuk; a midrashic expansion ofGenesis; a collection of prayers; an eschatolOgical description of a final war between good and evil; and a sectarian rule book. The seven scrolls were divided into two lots, and each was bought in Jerusalem: one group of four scrolls was purchased by the Metropolitan (Archbishop) of St. Mark's Monastery, Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, and the other group of three by Eleazar Sukenik ofHebrew University. In 1949, Metropolitan Samuel brought his scrolls to the United States, where they wound up in a safe-deposit box in New York. He placed an advertisement in the Wall StreetJournal on June 1, 1954 which read, in part: "The Four Dead Sea Scrolls' Biblical manuscripts ... are for sale. This would be an ~hus, I have leaned very heavily upon these two...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 76-95
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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