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The Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature
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Current Newsletter

The Orion Center Newsletter

Winter 1998, Third Issue


Martine Vandenberg

Professor Michael Stone, Director of the Orion Center, is spending his sabbatical as a Fellow-in-Residence at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies in Wassenaar, Holland. He is devoting a substantial portion of his research time to an ongoing project concerning the Adam and Eve tradition in the Jewish and Christian literature and thought. He continues to be active in Orion Center affairs, by electronic mail, which keeps him in close touch with the office in Jerusalem. During this year he will speak about the Orion Center in various European centers.

Orion Developments:

  • Appointments: Orion's Associate Director Dr. Esther Chazon has been appointed as Program Chair, Qumran Section, of the Society of Biblical Literature and to the Editorial Board of Dead Sea Discoveries. The Orion Center wishes to congratulate her on these important positions.
  • Science: In the summer of '97 the Orion Center established a Scientists Working Group to explore research opportunities for studying the physical aspects of the Scrolls. DNA analysis, parasitology and the study of animal bones are among the topics which research will add greatly to further understanding the production of the Scrolls and perhaps even to reveal information about diseases that affected ancient herds and people.

  • Breaking News: Essene Site found at En-Gedi?

    Hebrew University archaeologist and Orion Center grant recipient, Dr. Yitzhar Hirschfeld, says that a cluster of stone huts which he unearthed in Ein-Gedi was a settlement built by the Essenes, the sect most closely associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls. This discovery has aroused great international interest, both among scholars and laypeople, and has been reported by CNN, Nando and the Jerusalem Post.

    Exclusive photographs of the archaeological site, together with explanatory notes of the excavator, will soon be published on the Orion web site,

    On March 19, 1998, Dr. Hirschfeld will present his recent discoveries at the Orion Centers' Greenfield Scholars Seminars, 12.15-13.45, in room 5411, Humanities Building, Mount Scopus, Hebrew University. For more information on the Orion Programs, see page 4.

    Light on Orion's Scholars Seminar

    Angela Kim

    This fall semester, the Orion Center hosted two prominent Hebrew University professors at the Greenfield Scholars Seminar: Prof. Daniel Schwartz and Prof. Joseph Dan.

    On December 4, Prof. Schwartz of the Jewish History Department presented a paper on the letters in 2 Maccabees, in which he argued for a date of 143/2 BCE for the book's final composition. According to Schwartz, 2 Macc. was composed in Jerusalem, from an abridged book by Jason of Cyrene, to which was added 10:1-8 and the two letters which open the book. Schwartz explained that the first letter was sent in 143 BCE inviting the Jews of Egypt to participate in the feast of Tabernacles because, at that time, the Seleucid governor relinquished taxation on Judea, thereby creating a cause for celebration.

    The seminar was chaired by Prof. Y. Gafni; distinguished participants included Prof. Yom-Tov Asis, Head of the Institute of Jewish Studies, Mrs. Bella Greenfield, wife of the late Prof. Jonas Greenfield, and Rector Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson. When asked about the Orion Center and its impact on the study of Dead Sea Scrolls at the Hebrew University, Schwartz said, "The Orion Center has given new life and energy to the study of Scrolls here at the Hebrew University. It has served to promote the study of Scrolls in a real way by providing much needed funding for students in the form of grant assistance." He also commented that as a subscriber to the electronic Orion Discussion List, he is impressed by the extent of the readership and participation in the dialogue.

    Prof. Schwartz is on the Center's Academic Committee, and is presently writing a Hebrew commentary on 2 Maccabees, soon to be published by Yad Ben-Zvi. The translation from Greek was prepared with Ms. Emmanuelle Main, a Ph.D. candidate at the Hebrew University. The English version will be published by de Gruyter press.

    Prof. Joseph Dan, this year's Israel Prize recipient and the Gershom Scholem Professor of Jewish Mysticism, addressed the seminar on January 8, chaired by Dr. Esther Chazon. According to Professor Dan, "It is natural to inquire into the relationship between the Hekhalot and Qumran literature since both emerged during proximal points in antiquity from Jewish spiritual communities which identified themselves as distinct from the larger Jewish culture." Professor Dan's lecture focused on a key text, the Sar Shel-Torah which "emphatically demonstrates the continuity of speculation and inquiry into the tradition of Ezekiel's Chariot. Because of its chronological proximity to Hekhalot mysticism, it is unusual to discover that there are particular elements of the Merkavah tradition which are absent from this text." Merkavah descriptions and related traditions found in the Books of Enoch, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, Hekhalot Rabbati, and other works were also compared. Responses to the paper by Dr. Hananel Mach, Dr. Magen Broshi, Dr. Hanan Eshel and Prof. Rachel Elior focused on the resurgence of ancient Merkabah, midrashic and other traditions in the Byzantine period.

    Prof. Dan remarked that there is additional room for interdisciplinary studies in Jewish Mysticism and Qumran studies. "Not enough has been done to compare the terminology, vocabulary and syntax of the Hekhalot texts and Dead Sea literature. In my opinion, an intense linguistic investigation could lead to important conclusions with regard to the development of the Hebrew Language and of its religious symbolic terminology." He added, "Although the Orion Center has been in existence for a short time, the greater awareness of Dead Sea Scrolls at the Hebrew University is manifest already. The programs sponsored by the Orion Center are worthwhile and an effective means for interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars."

    The Orion Center would like to thank publicly Professors Dan and Schwartz for participating in the Greenfield Scholars Seminar and for their contribution to scholarship in Dead Sea Scrolls and its related literature.

    Spotlight on Orion Interns......

    Janie Brown

    The internship program offers graduate students the opportunity to be actively involved in the many programs conducted by the Orion Center and grants them access to all research facilities available at the Center's Scholars Room. Internships complement a program of study at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students. The Orion Interns for 1997-98 are:

    Adam Oded, an Interuniversity Fellowship Recipient and student of Prof. Lawrence Schiffman at New York University, has aided in the promotion of the Center by preparing attractive brochures. With staff member Ariella Amir, Adam has produced the Center's Hebrew brochure. Further responsibilities include production of the program for the Third Orion International Symposium on the Damascus Document. Angela Kim, an Honorary Interuniversity Fellow and a Fulbright Research Grant recipient, begins a research project analyzing 4QpHos a, b with noted Hebrew University professors Emanuel Tov and Menachem Kister. After completing her program in Israel, Angela will continue her Ph.D. course work with Prof. James VanderKam at University of Notre Dame. With staff member Brian Kvasnica, Angela has initiated new programs and access features on the Orion Internet site. Janie Brown continues research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on a M.A. thesis with advisors Prof. Craig Evans and Dr. Martin Abegg, Jr. at Trinity Western University. Prof. Evans, Dr. Peter Flint, and Dr. Martin Abegg, Jr. recently established the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at TWU in Langley, Canada. With staff member Avital Pinnick, Janie updates the weekly acquisitions for the Dead Sea Scrolls On-line Bibliography.

    Candidates for Orion Internships should apply to Prof. M.E. Stone or Dr. E. Chazon at the Orion Center.

    The On-Line Bibliography Project

    Dr. Avital Pinnick

    The Complete On-line Dead Sea Scrolls Bibliography Project is expanding rapidly with contributions coming in from scholars in Europe, North America, Australia and Israel. They are added weekly, every Monday, to our web site and monthly to an authors index on the same site. At the end of three years, they will be edited and published in hard copy as a resource to scholars and interested readers in the field of the Scrolls.

    In February, 1998, the Orion Center will implement its Bibliography Search Service on a trial basis for a one month period, to ascertain the interest in such a service and to determine whether to maintain it as a permanent service to the public. Users will be able to request secondary bibliography by author, date, subject or keywords, drawn from our database of nearly 1300 entries on Dead Sea Scrolls (mostly after 1995) or nearly 5000 entries dealing with Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity and the Ancient Near East.

    The First Symposium Volume in Press !!

    The papers from the first Orion International Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Biblical Perspectives, will be published by E.J. Brill in early spring. Papers from the second symposium are being prepared for the next volume in the same series.

    Stellar Scholar Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman (New York University): Structures in the Inner Courtyard according to the Temple Scroll

    Adam Oded

    The Jubilee year of the Scrolls' discovery culminated with Tel Aviv University's conference dedicated to the memory of Jacob Licht (December 28-29, 1997). The evening session, which was co-sponsored by the Orion Center and open to the public, featured Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman from New York University. Schiffman delivered a lively lecture on Structures in the Inner Courtyard according to the Temple Scroll. He came equipped with color slides and a laser pointer which allowed him to explain the layout of the Temple as it is conceptualized in the Temple Scroll. Schiffman's presentation, in Hebrew, was lighthearted and at the same time very clear and informative. Using a combination of wit and visual aids, Schiffman brought the architecture described in the Temple Scroll to life. Even the lay observer could get a clear picture of the intentions of the author of the Temple Scroll as explained by Schiffman.

    I had a chance to talk with Professor Schiffman about some of his current work. It seems the Professor has his hands full. He is writing a commentary on the Temple Scroll, editing the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, preparing a halachic text for the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series, and working on other projects. Schiffman also participated in the Orion Center's Third International Symposium, The Damascus Document: A Centennial of Discovery. There he presented his popular "It Shall Come to Pass in the End of Days" during the opening session and "The Relationship of the Zadokite Fragments to the Temple Scroll" during the Friday morning session. On the night before the conference, he joined Prof. Stefan Reif of Cambridge University in a special program at the Israel Museum called "From Qumran to Cairo: The Relationship Between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Cairo Genizah." The program is part of the public lecture series co-sponsored by the Orion Center and the Shrine of the Book. Schiffman had good things to say about the Orion Center, praising the successful conferences the Center has sponsored in the past. The Orion Center has gotten on the map successfully, people are definitely visiting the Web Site, but the question remains, will it have a curricular effect?