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The Dead Sea Scrolls: History and Impact

This course will explore the context of the turn-of-the-era (200 BCE-100 CE) world in the Eastern Roman Empire, especially as Jewish communities faced this superpower. We will reevaluate the story of the discovery of the Dead Seas Scrolls and the first 50 years of their collection and publication. With these insights in hand, we will examine what the diversity of written material from the DSS community reveals about early Judaism, and, if at all, the emerging Jesus movement. Finally, we will explore how today’s readers may consider the importance and value of ancient text traditions for the contemporary reading of ancient texts.  Class time will include input from the instructor, group reading, and commenting on texts, videos, and discussion.

Nancy Heisey is Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies, having taught at Eastern Mennonite University and Seminary for more than 20 years. Her research interests include early Christian history, the history of the Bible, and the history of biblical interpretation. In addition, she worked for many years in international ecumenical settings, including with Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite World Conference. Heisey received a Ph.D. in religion at Temple University, taught in a high school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and grew up in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.

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