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Re: DSS Course

To Jim West,

let me add my voice to the chorus.  I have just finished teaching a seminar
on the DSS that seems to have been very successful.  I didn't take strong
positions on any of the disputed areas (although I sometimes had opinions).
Instead I introduced the students to the evidence and the major theories
and we spent most of the course discussing student essays on significant
issues in DSS research.  I think they've come away not only with a good
feel for the status quaestionis in this field, but also with a good sense
of how to think critically about ancient history and literature in general.

BTW, the area of DSS is hardly the only field in turmoil.  I'm gearing up
now to teach a seminar on the Pentateuch in the fall.  I'd say the
scholarly debate on it is, if anything, more fragmented and acrimonious
than that on the DSS.

So I'd say the best approach is just to let the students see how confused
the picture really is.  If you feel that this will bewilder them too much,
you might want to work from a particular perspective that you yourself find
more or less convincing and bring up other viewpoints as they become

BTW, I used VanderKam as a basic textbook and had them read all of the
translations in Garcia-Martinez.

Good luck!

Jim Davila
University of St. Andrews