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orion-list DSS in Sydney: International Symposium
I thought Orion subscribers might like to hear about the Dead Sea Scrolls
exhibition in Sydney and the International Symposium which was held there on
The Symposium was booked out with about 350 people attending. Dr Rachael
Kohn, the braodcaster who recently produced a documentary on the Scrolls for
ABC television, hosted it and introduced the speakers.
Geza Vermes began things with a lecture on the impact of the Scrolls on the
study of Christianity. He was careful to stress that the scrolls were
primarilly Jewish documents and we cannot assess its importance to
Christianity without first assessing its importance for Judaism. This was
the topic of the second talk given by Lawrence Schiffman who was typically
entertaining and too quick to allow note-taking.
Emmanuel Tov gave the next lecture on the history and the current state of
the publication process of the Scrolls. This highlighted to all the huge
task involved and being undertaken by Tov and his colleagues.
Finally Hanan Eshel gave an excellent lecture on the archeological
discoveries found at Qumran and the surrounding caves. He argued
persuasively that the evidence suggests that the caves were used by the sect
that lived at the Qumran site.
The lectures were clearly presented and on a level understandable to the the
layman (the audience included many non-academics). One thing which I found
interesting was that in the questions+answers session at the end, almost
every question was directed at Professor Eshel and was about the
archeological discoveries. Clearly this is where the public interest lies; I
guess this is what captures people's imagination.
The exhibition itself is excellent. I was disappointed that there were so
few of the actual scrolls on display (about 10) but this was supplemented by
an exhibition of the archeological discoveries and the tools and techniques
used my scholars to piece together and translate the scrolls. A wide range
of media is used - pictures, video, exihits, etc - making it very
interesting. For non-experts in the scrolls, the exhibition is extremely
informative and fairly unbiased.
Its well worth a visit if you are in the Sydney area.
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