FORT WORTH, Texas – Old Testament scholars will present their research on Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments during the 2011 meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in San Francisco, Nov. 19-22.
Southwestern Seminary currently owns nine Dead Sea Scroll fragments, housing the largest collection of fragments owned by an institution of higher education within the United States. The seminary will host an exclusive exhibit of the scrolls from July 2, 2012, to Jan. 11, 2013. Experts in Old Testament scholarship on the seminary’s faculty have studied the fragments in preparation for SBL.
“This is very humbling and exciting,” said Ryan Stokes, assistant professor of Old Testament at Southwestern and an expert in the literature of the Second Temple period. “It is an incredible opportunity that our faculty members have to work on these fragments.”
Those who will present their research during SBL include the following Southwestern Seminary faculty members: George Klein, professor of Old Testament; Eric Mitchell, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology; Ishwaran Mudliar, assistant professor of Old Testament; Joshua Williams, assistant professor of Old Testament; and Stokes.
The seminary has also invited other scholars to present during this section of SBL. Bruce Zuckerman, director of the West Semitic Research Project and associate professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Southern California, led a team that photographed Southwestern’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments last September. During SBL, he will discuss the imaging technology that allows scholars to publish ancient texts in high-definition as well as to read otherwise illegible texts.
SWBTS photo by Nic Hervey
Bruce Zuckerman, director of the West Semitic Research Project, shows Southwestern student David Keever how the imaging technology works.
Peter Flint, professor at Trinity Western University and co-director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute, and Sydnie White Crawford, professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will discuss the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relevance to biblical studies.
For more information on the annual meeting of the SBL, visit sbl-site.org/meetings/annualmeeting.aspx.
Scrolls now online
Five of the Dead Sea Scrolls that have been stored for decades in a climate-controlled exhibit at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem are now available in digital form to anyone with an internet connection.
A website (dss.collections.imj.org.il) developed by the Israel Museum and Google allows online visitors to examine the scrolls in minute detail with the help of a magnifying feature.
Pages for each of the five scrolls – the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll – also contain brief videos and explanatory notes.
According to the museum announcement, details invisible to the naked eye are made visible through ultra-high resolution digital photography at up to 1,200 megapixels each.
Photographer Ardon Bar-Hama used UV-protected flash tubes with an exposure of 1/4000th of a second to minimize damage to the fragile and light-sensitive scrolls, the museum said.
Dating from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D., the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near the Dead Sea. The region’s arid environment helped ensure their survival.
“We have seen how people around the world can enhance their knowledge and understanding of key historical events by accessing documents and collections online,” said Yossi Matias, managing director of Google’s Israeli research and development center, in a statement.
“We hope to make all existing knowledge in historical archives and collections available to all, including helping to put additional Dead Sea Scroll documents online.”