CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-00011; fax (319) 384-0024
UI scholar celebrates 50th anniversary of Dead Sea Scrolls discovery
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Fifty years ago, a young shepherd threw a rock into
a cave in the high limestone cliffs a mile away from the northwest shore
of the Dead Sea. Instead of the quiet plunk of the stone hitting the earthen
floor of the cave, there was a shattering sound and the history of Judaism
was suddenly burst wide open.
The rock shattered pots which contained the ancient documents we now
call the Dead Sea Scrolls. This discovery led scholars to fragments of
more than 700 other manuscripts in other caves in the area. Since then,
scholars have worked tirelessly to piece the documents back together.
George Nickelsburg, a UI professor of religion, has been studying the
scrolls since the 1960s, and has now used his wealth of information to
create a year-long exhibit on the scrolls in the School of Religion.
"Discoveries by the Dead Sea: The scrolls 50 years later,"
is a photographic exhibit on display through May 1998 on the third floor
of Gilmore Hall at the UI. In the collection of nearly 50 photos, visitors
can view the site of the discovery, learn about the people who discovered
the scrolls, and begin to understand the beliefs, practices, frustrations,
and hopes of the scrolls' authors.
Nickelsburg has written a catalog that explains the photos in context
and also provides translations of the scrolls which are on display. The
catalog includes a 12-page interpretive essay written by Nickelsburg. He
will also lead a series of discussions during October about the scrolls
and their historical significance. Following is a schedule of his discussions
which run from 2-4 p.m. and are free and open to the public:
Sunday, Oct. 5: "Placing the Scrolls in their Context"
Sunday, Oct. 12: "What was Going On at Qumran?"
Sunday, Oct. 19: "Reimagining the Shape of Early Judaism"
Sunday, Oct. 26: "Rethinking the Origins of Christianity"
The exhibit is sponsored by the UI School of Religion and is supported
by Aliber Hillel House and Agudas Achim Synagogue, both in Iowa City. Reporters
interested in receiving a copy of the exhibit catalog should contact Mary
Geraghty, UI News Services, (319) 384-0011. For further information, contact
the UI School of Religion at (319) 335-2164.