Lecturer: Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman
Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies & Director of the Global Network for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies, New York University
Being one of the eminent scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls in our time Professor Lawrence Schiffman has taken a stance for the interpretation of the scrolls in the context of Jewish history and thought which often presents a perception that differs from earlier readings. His writings argue remarkable points: That the location of the Qumranites is connected to the outlook of the Zadokite/Sadducee identification which turns the perspective on the sect from a theological to a legal discernment of the texts. That the conflicting trends of messianism within the Dead Sea Scrolls are now read as affecting our analysis of the messianism of other groups in late antiquity, like early Christianity. The analogies between the communal meal of the Qumran sect and the early Christian Eucharist are put into question, and so are the short but complex passages of “the son of God text” and “the pierced messiah text.” Schiffman interprets these writings in a Jewish milieu of the Hasmonean period and not, as in some earlier interpretations, as the earlier idea of a foreshadowing of early Christianity. The emphasis is rather on the elements in early Christianity which find their roots in the Judaism of the Second Temple period. In the context of such insights Professor Schiffman encourages new questions regarding the relation between Qumran and the New Testament.