The Orion Center Newsletter
Winter 1998, Third Issue
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.
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, http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il.
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
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......
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
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?