During his recent visit to Israel, President Barack Obama began his itinerary with a viewing of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Officials took this occasion to underscore the continuity from biblical times to the present exemplified by these most ancient of biblical scrolls. Of course, examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of the ways they have been understood in ancient and in modern times afford evidence not only of continuity but also of dispute and disagreement. In her Israel Studies Lecture, “Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Were They Forgotten,” Rachel Elior offers an overview of the provenance of the scrolls and her assessment of their significance in both ancient Judaism and modern scholarship.
Rachel Elior is John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Mystical Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel Studies Professor for Spring Quarter 2013 at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is teaching a course at UChicago, “Major Issues in the Study of Jewish Mysticism: Between Kabbalah and Hasidism.” Professor Elior is the fourth visiting faculty member at the Divinity School’s Religion and Culture in the Twenty-first Century: Perspectives from Israel program, made possible through the generous support of the Israel Studies Project of the Jewish Federation of Chicago.