The dead sea scrolls, judaism and christianity

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Syllabus ~ Fall, 2008
Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman

Ariel Simon

Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00-3:15PM, Silver Center, room 206
Required Texts:
J. Magness, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.
L. H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1994; ppb. Garden City, NY: Anchor Doubleday, 1995.
J. C. VanderKam and P. Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Harper San Francisco, 2002.
G. Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Revised ed., London: Allen Lane, Penguin, 2004.
Excerpts from L. H. Schiffman, ed., Texts and Traditions: A Source Reader for the Study of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism, Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1998, will be distributed.

Class Requirements

Students are expected to come to class and do the reading regularly.  Attendance will be taken and students are permitted only two unexcused absences. Occasional unannounced quizzes based on the reading assignments will be given during the first part of class. 

Students will write a 10-12 page footnoted research paper.  The teaching assistant, Ariel Simon, will be available for help and advice on these papers. Note the scheduling of a special section with a teaching assistant to help prepare you for the writing of the papers.  

Due dates for progress on the paper are as follows:

Tuesday September 16th – Optional session: “Expectations for a History Paper” 8:00- 9:00PM/ Location TBA

Tuesday September 16th --Topic

Thursday, October 2nd -- Preliminary Bibliography

Tuesday October 30th -- Full Outline with Argument/Thesis

Tuesday, November 25th -- Paper Due

Late papers will be penalized and extensions will not be granted

Ethical Practices

All students must adhere to the highest ethical and moral standards.  Any form of plagiarism or cheating will not be tolerated. Violators will be penalized in accordance with the policies established in the Bulletin of the College of Arts and Science (Pg. 370-371; 

Plagiarism includes presenting or paraphrasing a phrase, sentence, or passage of a published work (including material from the World-Wide Web) in a paper or exam answer without quotation marks and attribution of the source, submitting your own original work toward requirements in more than one class without the prior permission of the instructors, submitting a paper written by someone else, submitting as your own work any portion of a paper or research that you purchased from another person or commercial firm, and presenting in any other way the work, ideas, data, or words of someone else without attribution. (
Useful Dead Sea Scrolls Websites

Warning: websites other than those listed here may be totally misleading:

  • The Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (

  • The Center for Online Judaic Studies (http://cojs/org) click on Dead Sea Scrolls at bottom right.

Students should consult the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (2 vol.), L.H. Schiffman and J. C. VanderKam, Editors in Chief, Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. NYU Bobst REF ~ BM487 .E53 2000
Students are encouraged to make use of the NYU Writing Center:

411 Lafayette, 3rd Floor

Telephone: 212-998-8866 ~ Email:
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; Friday, 11 am to 4 pm

Schedule an Appointment Online:

Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit

During this semester (Sept. 21-Jan. 4) the Jewish Museum (1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street) will be exhibiting “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Mysteries of the Ancient World.” All students in our class are required to visit the exhibit, certify their having been there, and write a two-page “note” on the significance of an object exhibited there. Take your friends along as well!

For more information:
Grading Distribution

  • Quizzes and Exhibit Report ~ 20%

  • Paper ~ 40%

  • Final Exam ~ 40%          

The final exam will be given on Thursday, December 18th - 2:00PM-3:50PM in the Silver Center, room 206. All students must take the exam at this time. 

Schedule of Sessions

Sept. 2: 1. Introduction

Sept. 4: 2. Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nova PBS Documentary

Schiffman, xvii-xxvii

Vermes, 1-25

VanderKam and Flint, 3-33

Magness, 1-31
Sept. 9: 3. Scholars, Scrolls and Scandals—The Controversy of the Dead Sea Scrolls—slide lecture

Magness, 32-104

Sept. 11: 4. Archaeology of Qumran (slide lecture)

Schiffman, 3-61

VanderKam and Flint, 34-84, 381-403

Magness, 73-105, 210-25

Sept. 16: 5. Origin of the Community: MMT (The Halakhic Letter) and the Sadducean Theory

Schiffman, 65-95

Vermes, 127-138, 221-29

VanderKam and Flint, 209-38

Sept. 18: 6. Essene Hypothesis and Parallels

VanderKam and Flint, 239-54

Vermes, 46-48

Xerox: L. H. Schiffman, 275-84

Sept. 23: 7. The Sectarian Organization

Schiffman, 97-126

Vermes, 26-45, 97-126

Magness, 105-33,188-209

Sept. 25: 8. Women in the Scrolls

Schiffman, 127-43

Vermes, 283 (hymn 17), 417-18

Magness, 163-87

Sept. 30 NO CLASS
Oct. 2: 9. Theology and the Sect and the Sectarian Hymns

Schiffman, 145-57

VanderKam and Flint, 255-74

Vermes, 67-90, 249-305

Oct. 7: 10. The Canon of the Hebrew Bible at Qumran

Schiffman, 161 - 169

VanderKam and Flint, 154-181
Oct. 9 and 14 NO CLASS
Oct. 16: 11. The Text of the Hebrew Bible at Qumran

Schiffman, 169-180

VanderKam and Flint, 87-153
Oct. 21 NO CLASS
Oct. 23: 12. Apocryphal Texts from Qumran

Schiffman, 181-95

VanderKam and Flint, 182-205

Vermes, 307-18, 539-613

Oct. 28: 13. Wisdom and Sapiential Texts

Schiffman, 197-210

Vermes, 419-443
Oct. 30: 14. Biblical Interpretation in the Scrolls

Schiffman, 211-22

VanderKam and Flint, 293-308

Vermes, 461-496

Nov. 4: 15. The Commentaries (Pesharim) and the History of the Qumran Sect

Schiffman, 223-41

Vermes, 49-66, 497-536

VanderKam and Flint, 275-92

Nov. 6: 16. Messianism in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Jewish or Christian?

Schiffman, 317-27, 341-50

Vermes, 532-4
Nov. 11: 17. The Temple Scroll and the History of Jewish Law

Schiffman, 245-71

Vermes, 191-220
Nov. 13: 18. Jewish Law in the Scrolls

Schiffman, 273-87

Vermes, 138-58, 231-40, 497-9

Magness, 134-162

Nov. 18: 19. Religious Life, Calendar and Liturgy

Schiffman, 289-312

Vermes, 347-99

Nov. 20: 20. The Eschatological Community and the War Scroll

Schiffman, 329-39

Vermes, 159-190, 387-90, 412-13, 614-22

Nov. 25: 22. Mysticism and Magic

Schiffman, 351-66

Vermes, 329-39, 347-75, 451-4
Dec. 2: 23. The Scrolls, Early Christianity, and the New Testament

VanderKam and Flint, 311-78

Vermes, 455-7
Dec. 4: 24. Texts from Masada and the Bar Kokhba Caves

Schiffman, 395-409

Xerox: L. H. Schiffman, Texts and Traditions, 464-469, 487-94, 722-24, 726

Vermes, 625-31

Dec. 9: Conclusion: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Judaism and Christianity
Dec. 11: Review Session

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