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The Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls

16 August 2012

The Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls

To celebrate 25 years of Religious Studies, the University of Waikato is hosting a free public lecture next week that will focus on the mystery surrounding the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls.

The seminar titled The Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls will be presented by former Waikato University Religious Studies and History Senior Lecturer Dr Joan Taylor, who is now a Professor of Christian Origins and the Second Temple Judaism at King’s College London.

Professor Douglas Pratt from the Religious Studies programme at Waikato is delighted that Dr Taylor will be giving a lecture to mark this 25 year milestone. “Joan’s scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls is second to none. She is a world-ranked scholar in this field,” he says.

Dr Taylor will present part of her forthcoming book, The Essenes, The Scrolls and the Dead Sea, which will be published later this year by Oxford University Press.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of over 800 biblical manuscripts found between 1946 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. They are known to be the earliest surviving copies of biblical and
extra-biblical documents and are of great historical and religious significance.

“Why were more than 800 manuscripts of Biblical and other writings placed in caves beside the Dead Sea and what does all this mean for our understanding of what the Scrolls really are?” she asks.

Professor Pratt says although Religious Studies at the University of Waikato and further afield has come a way in 25 years, there is still a long way to go and Dr Taylor is a major contributor to our understanding of the complex subject.

“The subject remains a field of significance for teaching and study, with many problems, issues and questions that demand our attention still. Perhaps the biggest problem for the study of religion is that just about everyone thinks they know it all. In truth, ignorance and prejudice about religion has never been greater – or more troublesome.”

The Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls seminar will be held on Tuesday 21 August, from 6-7.30pm in the S1.02 Lecture theatre, S Block at the University of Waikato.

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