Dead Sea Scrolls scholar to speak at Brodsky Library


Of all the archaeological discoveries ever made, none surpasses in ongoing international importance the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls. So says Rabbi Shalom Paul, of Jerusalem, one of the world’s leading authorities on the Bible and also chairperson of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation.

Rabbi Paul remembers the 1947-to-1956 uncovering of the scrolls, some 940 documents including texts from the Hebrew Bible, in 11 caves in and surrounding the ruins on the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, located on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea (hence the name given to the collection) in the West Bank.

As a result of the scrolls, he said in a telephone interview: “When scholars write books, they no longer write on early Judaism but of early Judaisms. We know now there were many types of Judaism.”

Also, while it was understandable that the roots of early Christianity had to come from Jewish sources, study of the scrolls made it “provable,” he said.

Rabbi Paul, who made aliyah in 1971, is professor emeritus of Bible and past chair of the Bible Department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A widely published author, he previously taught for many years at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he was ordained.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, which he chairs, has been responsible for publication of all the scrolls, with work now underway to make them available in microfiche and online. To date, books translating the scrolls and analyzing their meaning and significance number in the thousands. Each year, Rabbi Paul gathers senior scroll scholars to recap their recent studies and plan for the upcoming year.

Should Rabbi Paul’s name ring local bells (or sound shofarot), there is good reason. This marks his 38th year co-officiating the High Holiday services at Shaare Zekek Synagogue in University City.

Rabbi Shalom Paul

What: To speak on “The Ever-Alive Dead Sea Scrolls and Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Early Judaism and the Birth of Christianity,” this year’s annual Lazaroff Lecture, funded by the Morris and Ann Lazaroff Endowment.

When: 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 14

Where: Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library at the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building, 12 Millstone Campus Drive.

How much: Free to Friends of the library, otherwise $7 per person. Reception afterward.

More info: Reservations are required and can be made at 314-432-0020. Rabbi Paul will sign his “The Jewish Bible: A Jewish Publication Society Guide,” which will be for sale Sept. 14 at the Brodsky Library.