Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dead Sea Scroll Fact Sheet

When speaking to lay audiences about the Dead Sea Scrolls, I've learned that, although interest is typically very high in the Scrolls, background knowledge about what they are is very low. I've learned never to give a talk to a group of non-specialists without some very elementary prolegomena: What are the Scrolls? When were they discovered? and so on.

To streamline this necessary process, I developed a "Dead Sea Scroll Fact Sheet" that is meant to orient people rapidly to the Scrolls. It is intentionally very simple and "non-denominational": that is, I tried to stay away from presenting any positions as "facts" that are still subjects of debate within the guild — even positions that I personally hold to.

Anyway, now I'm putting it online for any of you to use. Feel free to download it, distribute it, or modify it as you see fit, either with or without attribution to me. It's just a little something that I've found helpful; my hope is that others will as well.

UPDATE: Now available on deinde.org as well. Super!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ed, for sharing your good fact sheet. If I may, I'll question one statement: that the scrolls themselves don't tell us who wrote them. I suggest that *some* of the scrolls do self-identify the sectarian group, and, in effect, tell us who wrote *some* of the texts. Namely "Essenes"; not in English, of course, nor in any of the many Greek spellings (including Ossaioi), but in the Hebrew self-designation, 'osey hatorah, observers of torah, the Essene self-description. This Hebrew origin was recognized at least as early as a 1532 history edited by Philip Melanchthon--can anyone supply an earlier "modern" scholarly citation?--and seen or discussed by twenty-some other pre-1948 scholars; for bibliography:
Scholars since 1948 who advocate this identity, or who discuss it, include James VanderKam, Judy Yates Siker, Catherine Murphy, James Tabor, and William Brownlee. (See, e.g., articles by VanderKam and me in DSS After Fifty Years, v.2.)
best, Stephen Goranson