Missouri State University will get a glimpse into the world of Biblical archaeology with an “Indiana Jones flair” when Jewish studies scholar Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman visits campus later this month.
Schiffman, one of the most prominent and influential experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls, will give a free public lecture as part of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association Conference on Sept. 11.
Schiffman is currently the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and serves as the director of the Global Institute for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies. He has previously served as the vice provost for undergraduate education at Yeshiva University and has been featured in multiple PBS, BBC and Discovery documentaries.
The Dead Sea Scrolls: 70 years later
The Midwest Jewish Studies Association hosts an annual conference to bring together scholars in the region who work in the field of Jewish studies. When Missouri State was selected to host this year’s conference, Dr. Vadim Putzu, assistant professor of religious studies, knew Schiffman would be the perfect plenary speaker.
“The year 2017 will mark the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls,” said Putzu. “As a member of the restricted panel of experts who actually has access to the physical manuscripts, it made perfect sense to invite Dr. Schiffman.”
The Dead Sea Scrolls, originally discovered in 1947, include the oldest known manuscripts of the Bible. The history of their discovery, says Putzu, has an “Indiana Jones flair” to it.
“For a time, only a few selected scholars were authorized to see the scrolls,” said Putzu. “There are a multitude of rumors and stories about journalists in the 1950s trying to lure those scholars into revealing supposedly secret and unsettling information about the Bible and the origins of Christianity and Judaism— there’s a certain mystique and feeling of adventure when it comes to the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls
In his plenary speech, Schiffman will discuss how the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has changed our understanding of the origin and early history of Biblical texts.
“The Dead Sea Scrolls are arguably the greatest archaeological find of the 2oth century,” said Putzu. “Dr. Schiffman’s lecture will offer everyone a window into a world that is geographically, historically and culturally very different from our own.”
The Dead Sea Scrolls and their impact on the transmission and interpretation of the Bible, says Schiffman, are crucial to understanding the religious history of Western civilization.
“The Bible is so central to the ethical and religious lives of our society and is clearly one of the central elements of American culture,” said Schiffman. “This is a chance to understand the role it played in the civilization that shaped modern Western religious traditions.”
Schiffman’s plenary speech will be held at 7:15 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Plaster Student Union East Ballroom. The plenary is free and open to the public, and registration for the entire conference can be completed in person on Sept. 11 in Strong Hall.
For more information, contact Putzu at 417-836-4997.