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Dead Sea Scrolls curator to speak of historic find

Published February 16, 2007


In 1947, three Bedouin boys playing in the caves above the Dead Sea in Israel made one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century. During their explorations they discovered a treasure, scrolls, dating from before A.D. 100.

Adolfo Roitman, curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and director of Jerusalem's Israel Museum Shrine of the Book, will lecture locally on the significance of these scrolls to both Judaism and Christianity.

"The scrolls became significant to both historians and religious leaders because they are some of the few remaining biblical documents dating from before A.D. 100," Roitman said in a statement.

This evening at 7:30 p.m., he will speak about the "Religious Significance of Jerusalem" at Congregation B'nai Emmunah, 3374 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. On Saturday at 9:30 a.m. he will speak about the "Concept of Community in the Dead Sea Scroll," and at 7:30 p.m. he will discuss their significance to Judaism and Christianity. All Friday and Saturday lectures are at Congregation B'nai Emmunah. On Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. he will lecture on the topic "From Serpent to Satan: the Story of Paradise in Literature and Art" at the Golda Meir/Kent Jewish Center, 2010 Greenbriar Blvd., Clearwater.

All the lectures are free, but reservations are required due to limited seating. Call Lili Blake at (813) 299-6900 to secure a seat.

The 850 documents wrapped in cloths and green with age were discovered in 11 caves in and around the Wadi Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956. Dated from the middle of the second century B.C. and the first century A.D., the scrolls appeared written by members of a Jewish sect, the Essenes, who lived near the caves in Qumran, an excavated site.

One of the longer texts was found in 1956 in Cave 11. Unrolled in 1961 the manuscript is the thickest of any of the scrolls and is a collection of psalms and hymns, comprising parts of 41 biblical psalms and containing passages of prose about the psalms written by King David.

The scrolls are mostly made of animal skins and papyrus; one is of copper. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and are so delicate they are kept in a protected state in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. Because the scrolls are too fragile to be displayed permanently, each scroll is exhibited for three to six months, then removed from its display case and placed temporarily in a special storeroom.

Born in Argentina, Roitman is the author of three books: A Day at Qumran: The Dead Sea Sect and its Scrolls, The Sectarians from Qumran: Daily Life of the Essenes and Envisioning the Temple: Scrolls, Stones and Symbols.

He is writing a fourth book on the book of Judith, a part of the Hebrew Bible's Apocrypha.

He is an ordained rabbi and holds master's degrees in anthropological sciences from the University of Buenos Aires and comparative religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He holds a doctorate in ancient Jewish thought, also from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

[Last modified February 15, 2007, 08:24:53]

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