This lecture will provide a basic introduction to the discovery, contents and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Since the serendipitous discovery of the first of eleven caves yielding manuscript fragments in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls have generated a great deal of curiosity, controversy and speculation. Containing fragments of most of the books now contained in the Hebrew Bible (= Christian Old Testament), as well as commentaries, rules governing the lifestyle of an ascetic religious community, a treasure map, horoscopes, hymns and the description of a magnificent temple, the Dead Sea Scrolls have both enriched biblical scholarship and provided information about the history of Judaism and the background of Christianity. But they have also raised a multitude of new questions! This talk seeks to address a sample of these.

Johanna Stiebert is a German-New Zealander and Assistant Professor in the area of Hebrew language and Hebrew Bible in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee. She holds degrees from the Universities of Otago (1992), Cambridge (1995) and Glasgow (1998). Prior to coming to Knoxville in the spring of 2003, she taught at St. Martin’s College (Lancaster, UK) in 1999 and at the University of Botswana in southern Africa from 2000 to 2002. Dr. Stiebert’s doctoral dissertation explores the phenomenon and vocabulary of shame in the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible. Her monograph ‘The Construction of Shame in the Hebrew Bible: The Prophetic Contribution’ was published by Sheffield Academic Press in 2002. Since then she has published in the areas of Hebrew emotion terminology, Hebrew Bible texts pertaining to homosexuality, African-centered readings of the Hebrew Bible, social-scientific and ideological-critical readings of the book of Ezekiel in particular and the violence of God in the book of Lamentations.

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