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Current Newsletter

The Orion Center Newsletter

November 2010

Letter from the Director

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Fifteen years have passed since the founding of the Orion Center. During that time the Center has carved out for itself an important place in the world of research on the literature of the Second Temple period, and in particular on the literature of Qumran.
Among this year’s array of activities, the leading event is the Thirteenth International Orion Symposium, which will be convened this coming February (see p. 2). Also on the docket: a rich program of Center seminars; the continued updating of the Dead Sea Scrolls Inventory; and finally, even as I write, we are completing the work on a new web search engine for the Online Bibliography (see facing column).
The participation of both Israeli and international scrolls scholars is what energizes all the activities of the Center. It has been our privilege to benefit from this participation until now, and we hope that this partnership will continue and grow. I would thus like to ask our scholarly colleagues to send us notice of your relevant publications, and likewise abstracts of these publications, in order to make the Online Bibliography as complete and useful as possible.
I would like to thank the researchers and students who carry forward the work of the Center: our student interns, and especially Ms. Hannah Wortzman, for her excellent work on the Bibliography. Heartfelt thanks as well to Dr. Ruth Clements, who edits Orion publications and oversees the Bibliography and Inventory; Ms. Ariella Amir, administrative manager of the Center; and Ms. Yael Bezalel Eliahoo, Orion Webmaster. The Center’s successes are due to their labors, thoughtfulness, and endeavors. And finally, a special word of appreciation to Prof. Michael Stone for the vision and efforts that brought the Center into being, and to my predecessors for their important contributions to Center life.
We thank the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Orion Foundation, the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund, the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, and the Associates worldwide, for your past and ongoing support.
With best wishes for the New Year,
Menahem Kister

The Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature
Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies
Rabin World Center of Jewish Studies
The Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus
Jerusalem 91905 Israel
Tel: 972–2–588–1966   Fax: 972–2–588–3584
Web site:

New Look for the Orion Bibliography
The Orion Center is pleased to announce the launch of its new bibliography search engine, accessible through the Bibliography tab on the Orion website. The new dynamic interface, designed by Roded Konforty of Macpire Solutions, will replace the current search pages by author, year, keyword, and language.
In addition to the “standard” searches (by author or title), the user will be able to search for key terms across the full database, or use the drop-down menus to find a particular type of work (e.g., dissertations, reviews, audiovisual materials, bibliographies). Multiple search criteria can be used to narrow searches in creative ways (to generate lists of, e.g., all reviews of a particular book; all publications coauthored by a particular team of scholars; all text editions published in 2000).
The new search also allows us the possibility of making additional information available. We are currently in the process of collecting abstracts, fulltext links, and related links, where available, for the entries currently in the database. This information will become part of the web search as it is entered into the database.
The search is up on the website in its “Beta” version; as you, our colleagues, test drive it, we will be able to fine-tune it to better suit your needs. We encourage the scholarly community to 1) access the search, explore the different search possibilities, and send us questions and feedback; and 2) take a look at the list of your own publications, and feel free to send us both keywords and abstracts so that we can update your entries. And meanwhile, don’t forget to check out the Current Bibliography page, which we will continue to update, as usual, every Monday—and send us your new listings!
In addition to the new search, we have added a “Newly Published Texts” page to the Bibliography tab. This is meant to highlight Judean Desert and related documents published since 2007, outside of the DJD framework. Here, too, please send us notices of such publications as they come to your attention.
We are grateful to the Orion Foundation, the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund, and the Hebrew University for their support of the new search engine; and we are grateful to our colleagues for your interest and assistance. Together, we are fashioning the Orion Online Bibliography into a truly state-of-the-art scholarly tool.

Orion Center Academic Committee
Dr. Esther Chazon, Chair
Prof. Menahem Kister
Prof. Shlomo Naeh
Prof. Joseph Patrich
Prof. Shalom Paul
Dr. David Satran
Dr. Michael Segal
Prof. Emanuel Tov

The Thirteenth International Orion Symposium
jointly sponsored by the Hebrew University Centre for the Study of Christianity:
Tradition, Transmission, and Transformation from Second Temple Literature through Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity, February 22–24, 2011
The Second Temple period was crucial to the formation of both rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity; the roots of both religions can be traced to this earlier era. Many literary genres, forms of interpretation, and ideas found in later Jewish and Christian writings trace their origins back to this decisive period. The process of transmitting and transforming these earlier texts and traditions developed differently within the two religions. While Christians often transmitted actual texts (e.g., much of our knowledge of Hellenistic Judaism is through the preservation of Greek Jewish literature by Christian authors), rabbinic Judaism generally preserved earlier interpretations in the form of traditions integrated into new literary frameworks. Rabbinic traditions thus often provide the key to understanding obscure passages in compositions of the Second Temple period. Exploring the dynamics by which texts and traditions were transmitted and transformed yields a richer understanding of the interrelationships among these vast bodies of literature and their attendant cultural contexts.
The upcoming Orion symposium, jointly sponsored by the Orion Center and the Hebrew University Centre for the Study of Christianity, will seek to address these connections between rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Second Temple writings in order to demonstrate the different trajectories of transmission and development. Scholars from Israel, Europe, and North America will examine particular texts and constellations of texts through which these larger processes of transmission can be traced. The tentative program will be posted on the Orion website in the near future.

New Director for the Orion Center
Prof. Menahem Kister, who holds a dual appointment in the Hebrew University Departments of Bible and Talmud, was appointed the new Director of the Orion Center in February 2010. Prof. Kister, who received his doctorate from the Hebrew University in 1994 and has taught at HU since 1995, has been a long-time participant in Orion Center events, a frequent lecturer in Orion symposia and the Greenfield Scholars Seminars, and a regular contributor to Orion volumes.
Prof. Kister’s research interests include the vocabulary and halakhah of the Dead Sea Scrolls; biblical interpretation in the Scrolls, early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism; the development of wisdom traditions in Second Temple literature; and theological conceptions in Second Temple and rabbinic literature. He has contributed new insights on a number of Qumran texts, studying the Scrolls within their wider cultural and religious contexts. Most recently, Prof. Kister edited a landmark two-volume series in Hebrew, The Qumran Scrolls and Their World, which features scholarly discussion of a wide range of current issues in Qumran studies.
The Center has been pleased to welcome Prof. Kister into his new role, and we look forward to continuing in a fruitful partnership.

Center News
Over this past year, the Center was graced with both overseas visitors and speakers from closer to home. Topics addressed in the Greenfield Scholar’s Seminar ranged from late biblical Hebrew to Qumran texts and archaeology, to comparisons between Jewish and Mandaean literature; and speakers came from Uppsala (Dr. Mats Eskhult), Haifa (Drs. Matthew Morgenstern and Liora Goldman), and Jerusalem (Dr. Guy Stiebel). Dr. Michael Segal gave the annual PBI lecture in honor of Miriam Sheffer, on innerbiblical interpretation in Daniel. Graduate presentation/discussion seminars dealt with Josephus (Dorit Gordon) and sin (Miryam Brand). Thanks to all our speakers!

  • In June, the Center was pleased to host the Orion Foundation, in conjunction with the meeting of the Hebrew University Board of Governors. Guests were treated to a Powerpoint presentation of the Center’s activities and goals, given by Dr. Esther Chazon, along with discussions of current research and future prospects by Orion Center founder Prof. Michael Stone and Director Prof. Menahem Kister. Orion Fellows Drs. Guy Stiebel and Liora Goldman also spoke about their research, and Orion Center staff and interns were on hand to assist the group in trying out Orion’s Virtual Qumran website.

Members of the Orion Foundation, June 2010

    • We welcome two new Matlow Scholars for the 2010/2011 academic year. Miryam Brand, of New York University, is researching the nature of sin in Second Temple Literature; and Shlomit Harel-Kendi, of Bar-Ilan University, is writing on the festivals in Qumran and related literature.
    • We have also greeted a number of visitors this year, including Profs. Torleif Elgvin (Oslo), John Kampen (Ohio), and Heinz-Wolfgang Kuhn (Munich); and Drs. Hוkan Bengtsson (Swedish Theological Institute, Jerusalem), Mats Eskhult, and Anette Mוnsson (Uppsala).
    • New projects have been keeping us busy, but several new pairs of hands have arrived to lighten the work. HU Master’s student Shlomi Efrati has joined us as an Orion research assistant, to maintain the Dead Sea Scrolls Inventory database. After giving birth to a son, Hannah Wortzman is back, bringing you the online Current Bibliography and working with Dr. Ruth Clements to update the bibliography database as it “goes public” (see p. 1).
    • Interns Daniel Rosenkrantz (Australia), Adrianne Spunagle (Arkansas via Oxford), and Guang Yang (Beijing), all students at the Rothberg International School, lend an international flavor to daily life at the Center, assisting with the Bibliography, the website, and the Orion Library collections.

    New Fragments and New Technologies, I:* Report on the Documentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Collection of the Syrian Orthodox Church
    by Bruce Zuckerman, Kenneth Zuckerman and Marilyn J. Lundberg, West Semitic Research Project

    On August 24–25, 2009, a team of scholars and tech-nologists from the West Semitic Research Project (WSRP) of the University of Southern California, in cooperation with Yeshiva University, were invited by Archbishop Cyril Aphrem Karim to do a new photographic documentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls remaining in the ownership of the Syrian Orthodox Church and stored at the headquarters of the Archdiocese of the Eastern United States in Teaneck, NJ. The team consisted of Dr. Bruce Zuckerman, Kenneth Zuckerman, Dr. Marilyn J. Lundberg (all from USC), and Dr. Steven Fine, representing YU. These scrolls are part of the original lot purchased in 1947 by Cyril’s predecessor as Archbishop, Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel.
    We documented the following texts: 1Q19bis Book of Noah; 1Q34bis Liturgical Prayers; 1Q70bis unidentified papyrus fragment; 1Q71 Daniel a; 1Q72 Daniel b.
    The WSRP team has been successfully photographing Dead Sea Scrolls since the early 1980s, but this invitation gave us the chance to apply new techniques, for higher standards than had ever before been utilized in scroll image documentation. We were able to take advantage of trilinear scanning technology, a technique that uses three separate color image sensors to deliver a level of resolution far greater than any other available means of digital imaging.
    Moreover, this project gave us a chance to apply Reflec-tance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to scroll surfaces for the first time, in order to determine whether this new technology could enhance the images in ways that had never been done before. All these efforts met with success; RTI, in particular, emerged as a valuable new means for documenting the scrolls—and, in fact delivered a level and quality of image data that proved to be a genuine surprise.
    We produced matching sets of images of both the fronts and backs of the scroll pieces, using backlighting in both high-resolution color and narrow band infra-red black-and-white. These images gave a level of detail that surpasses any previous examples known to us; for those of us accustomed to examining scrolls in PAM-type infra-red images with their typically fuzzy-edged letters, these images were a genuine revelation, with a dramatically high level of sharpness, even when substantially magnified.
    But the most exciting images were those for which we used RTI technology. RTI is a photo acquisition method not much more difficult than conventional photography but much simpler than 3-D scanning (and with many of its benefits). We took a series of 32 pictures, with a light placed at different angles for each, spaced and distanced around a given target. We used this series of images to create a data file of color information and surface properties, known as a polynomial texture map (PTM). This PTM is used to create a master image that is both dynamic and interactive. The researcher moves a cursor over and around the digital image. The cursor controls the positioning of a virtual light (or lights): As the cursor moves, the light moves as well, like a very powerful virtual flashlight, but with far greater precision. Such a dynamic light is ideal for revealing subtle variations in texture.
    During the Israel Antiquities Authority pilot project (see The Orion Newsletter, November 2008), we reported to the IAA on the potential use of RTI on animal skins, to illustrate skin and hair follicle patterns, as well as slight variations in skin surface textures. With RTI, these patterns may be viewed from any light angle, and thus the technique has considerable value for the monitoring and conservation of the scrolls. At that time, we had not yet had the chance to apply RTI to actual scroll surfaces. This project gave us our first such opportunity. The results exceeded our highest expectations. Both surface details and skin patterns were illustrated with striking clarity, far exceeding anything previously available.

    But beyond this, we realized that if we applied a technique called specular enhancement to an RTI image (which makes it appear shiny, as though dusted with a layer of silver), we could see the thickness of the ink strokes as they are situated on top of the surface of the skin. Indeed as one moves the light around, one can also begin to see differentiations between individual ink strokes—that is, elements of scribal ductus (the order and direction of the strokes that make up the letters), and more specifically, which stroke was written on top of, and therefore after, its neighbor. This was an unanticipated surprise! This kind of empirical information is likely to be very significant for Scrolls palaeography.
    The impact of RTI on Scrolls study is discussed at length in an article now available at wsrp/information/DynamicsDSS/. This article features anima-ted illustrations, including some RTI images taken from the documentary project we describe here. All the images done for this project—including the RTI images—are now avail-able for viewing and downloading through the InscriptiFact Digital Library (see for more information).

    We hope to report in the near future on further work done on Scroll fragments in other collections during 2010. This includes images made using a combination of RTI and infra-red imaging. While as of this writing, the results from these projects are still being processed and evaluated, the initial results of the RTI/IR combination look very promising.

    1Q34bis, Fragment D: The use of “specular en-hancement” allows us to see the thickness of the ink.

    1Q34bis, Fragment D, Detail. The image shows the use of RTI in visible light.

    *Editor’s note: This article marks the first in a series to showcase the “new” scroll fragments that have recently come to light, along with the new photographic techniques which will enhance future Scrolls study.

    Orion Center Calendar, Winter 2010/2011*
    November 10. Jonas C. Greenfield Scholars’ Seminar
    12:15–2:00 p.m. Prof. Menahem Kister, Shraga Bar-On, Yakir Paz (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): “‘The Lord’s Allotment is his People’: From Ancient Postbiblical Interpretation to Late Midrash” (in Hebrew)
    December 15. Jonas C. Greenfield Scholars’ Seminar
    12:15–2:00 p.m. Prof. Daniel R. Schwartz (Department of Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): “Josephus on the Conquest of Pella (Ant. 13.397): On Conver-sion and Circumcision in the Hasmonean Period” (in Hebrew)
    January 12. Lecture and Discussion
    12:15–1:30 p.m. Miryam Brand (Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, New York University; Orion Center Matlow Scholar): “The Demonic Source of Sin: Jubilees, Qumran Texts and Second Temple Prayer” (in Hebrew).
    February 22–24. 13th International Orion Center Symposium
    Beit Meiersdorf and the Rabin Building

    Spring Semester speakers will include Prof. Andrei Orlov, Prof. Jan Joosten, and Dr. Cana Werman. Please check the Calendar on our web site for the full Spring Semester program.

    *Please note: The Greenfield Scholars’ Seminars and other afternoon presentations are held in the Mandel World Center of Jewish Studies, The Rabin Building, Room 2001/2, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus

    Research Grants and Awards

    The Orion Center awards Research Grants to young scholars once a year. Priority is given to projects that a) can be done uniquely in Jerusalem or at the Hebrew University; and b) help to integrate the new information being gleaned from the Scrolls into the broader historical picture of Second Temple Judaism. Applications are submitted in the Spring.
    *Please visit our website for specific deadlines and application forms.

    Congratulations to Michael E. Stone, Aryeh Amihay, and Vered Hillel, on the publication of  Noah and His Book(s), (Atlanta, 2010), a collection of essays on the interpretation of the Noah story from postbiblical times. The contributors, mem-bers of Prof. Stone’s Pseudepigrapha Seminar, include many former Orion interns, grant recipients, and academic colleagues.

    Orion Publications
    New in 2010!
    New Perspectives on Old Texts: Proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 9–11 January, 2005, edited by Esther G. Chazon and Betsy Halpern-Amaru, in collaboration with Ruth A. Clements. STDJ 88. Leiden: Brill, 2010.
    In Preparation:
    New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in Judaism of the Second Temple Period and in Early Christianity: Proceedings of a Joint Symposium by the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature and the Hebrew University Centre for the Study of Christianity, June 18–21, 2007, edited by Gary A. Anderson, Ruth A. Clements, and David Satran.
    Hebrew in the Second Temple Period: The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of Other Contemporary Sources. Proceedings of the Twelfth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, Jointly Sponsored by the Eliezer Ben-Yehuda Center for the Study of the History of the Hebrew Language, 29–31 December 2008, edited by Steven E. Fassberg, Moshe Bar-Asher, and Ruth A. Clements.

    Dead Sea Scrolls on Tour 2010

    January 2, 2010 to June 6, 2010
    Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, Wis.
    March 12, 2010 to August 29, 2010
    Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul , Minn.
    April 13 to July 11, 2010
    The National Library of France, Paris, France
    May 21 to August 29, 2010
    Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, Calif.
    For information on upcoming exhibitions, please visit: shtml;; or

    The Associates Program offers the opportunity to receive current news about the Dead Sea Scrolls while supporting the Orion Center. You can help us foster innovative research and disseminate information to both scholars and the general public about the Scrolls and their significance for the study of the history of Judaism and of early Christianity.
    To join the Associates for 2010–2011, please fill out the enclosed form (or visit our website for a printable membership form); mail this form to the Center with your check (made out to “The Orion Center, Hebrew University”). Please be sure to include your name, mailing address, email and other contact information, along with your gift. Gifts may be earmarked to any of the following funds:
    1. Endowment Fund: To assist the Center towards achieving financial independence.
    2. Library Fund: To assist in expanding the Center Library, located in the Scholars’ Room.
    3. Fellowship Fund: To provide yearly grants to both young and established scholars for research in the area of Dead Sea Scrolls and related fields.
    We thank our current Associates for their ongoing support!