Dead Sea Scrolls Course

The Dead Sea Scrolls - WINTER COURSE 2021

In 1947, in caves near the shore of the Dead Sea, a trove of ancient Jewish writings was discovered. Many of these texts, previously unknown, offer new insight into Judaism of the Second Temple period and important context for the study of the New Testament and Christian origins. Join Fr. Dan Graves for this eight-week course, in which we will read a selection of the most important non-biblical scrolls and fragments in order to deepen our understanding of the roots of both modern Judaism and Christianity. In addition to exploring the theology and religious thought of the Scrolls, will review their discovery and subsequent controversial publication, who might have written and collected them, and their relationship to the archaeological remains at Khirbet Qumran.

The course will be conducted over Zoom in three timeslots to allow maximum participation. 

Weekly readings will be found in Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. Other readings will be posted online.

Registration: email Fr. Dan Graves:

Time Slots: Wednesdays 11 am; Thursdays 10 am; Thursdays 7:30 pm (Week of Jan. 10 through Week of Mar. 7 – No class during the Week of Feb. 14)

Required Text (click on titles to purchase):

Geza Vermes, ed., The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Revised Edition (Penguin: 2011), $30.00 Canadian (please purchase ahead of time).

Recommended Secondary Texts:

Timothy H. Lim, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Very Short Introduction, Second Edition (Oxford University Press: 2011).

James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, Revised Edition (Eerdmans: 2010).

Weekly Sessions (2021):

Session 1 (Week of Jan.10): Identifying the Community - Read: handout of contemporary sources on the Essenes; the "Community Rule" (Vermes 97-117). Lecture notes for Session 1: Click Here.

Session 2 (Week of Jan. 17): The History of the Community; Identifying the Key Players through Biblical Interpretation - Read:" the Damascus Document" (Vermes 127-145); "Commentary on Habakkuk" (Vermes 509-516), "Commentary on Nahum" (Vermes 504-507);"Commentary on the Psalms" (Vermes 519-523); "Prayer for King Jonathan" (Vermes, 340-1); "MMT" (Vermes 221-229).  Lecture notes for Session 2: Click Here.

Session 3 (Week of Jan. 24): The Thanksgiving Hymns: Songs of the Teacher - Read a selection of the "Thanksgiving Hymns" (Vermes 249-305)

Session 4 (Week of Jan. 31):  Prayer and Worship - Read "Songs for the Holocaust of the Sabbath" (Vermes 329-339); The Temple Scroll (selections, Vermes 191-220); Daily Prayers (Vermes 384-5); Blessings [1QSb] (Vermes 387-390); Benedictions [Berakhot] (Vermes 391-395)

Session 5 (Week of Feb. 7): Further Adventures in Reading, Interpreting, and re-writing the Bible - Read "The Genesis Apocryphon" (Vermes 480-491); Read a selection of texts of your own choosing from Vermes section G (539-632), "Biblically Based Apocryphal Works" 

NO CLASS (Week of Feb. 14) 

Session 6 (Week of Feb. 21): The End Times: Eschatology and Apocalypse - Read "the Messianic Rule" (Vermes 159-162); selections from "The War Scroll" (Vermes 163-185); "The Heavenly Prince Melchizedek" (Vermes 532-4); "The New Jerusalem" (Vermes 607-610)

Session 7 (Week of Feb. 28): Open session for discussing topics of interest that have arisen during the course.

Session 8 (Week of Mar. 7): Early Christian Parallels - Take an inventory of Christian parallels in all the reading thus far and read also: "Hymn of Glorification A & B" (Vermes 342-3); "The Two Ways" (Vermes 443-4); "Bless My Soul" (Vermes 444-448); "Beatitudes" (Vermes 455-7)


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