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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.

Lazlo Valentine

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