Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Department ofClassics and Ancient
Mediterranean Studies

RLST 153: Dead Sea Scrolls

RLST 153: Dead Sea Scrolls

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was one the most important archeological discoveries of the 20th century. This collection of over 900 scrolls found in caves by the Dead Sea includes the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and hundreds of other Jewish writings dating from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE, many of which were previously unknown. In this course we will examine select examples of the Dead Sea Scrolls in order to understand how these writings have revolutionized our understanding of the formation of the Bible, Jewish groups in the Greco-Roman period, and the origins of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism, and why there is so much scholarly debate around them. We will consider such issues as Jewish law, biblical interpretation, messianism, apocalypticism, prayer and rituals. The course will include discussion of the archaeology of the Qumran settlement and caves, scribal practices and the production of scrolls, and scholarly methods in reconstructing and interpreting ancient texts. We will study this one sectarian movement as a microcosm of the issues related to Jewish identity in this critical period that birthed both rabbinic Judaism and Christianity. We will focus on the beliefs and practices by which this movement constructed their particular community identity and worked out their place in the world.


Daniel Falk
Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies
Pronouns: He/Him