The Qumran Institute at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, is proud to announce the inaugural lecture of the 2018 Dirk Smilde Fellow, Professor George J. Brooke

Dirk Smilde Fellowship Inaugural Lecture

“A Summer’s Day? With What Shall We Compare the Dead Sea Scrolls?”

Prof. Dr. George J. Brooke

Friday, February 2, 2018, 15:30 – 18:15
Doopsgezinde Kerk, Oude Boteringestraat 33,
9712 GD Groningen, The Netherlands

On February 2nd, the president of the University of Groningen, Sibrandes Poppema, will present the Dirk Smilde Fellowship to Prof. Dr. George J. Brooke, Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis Emeritus at the University of Manchester, UK. Dr. Gareth Wearne will receive the Dirk Smilde Scholarship. If you would like to attend the ceremony please register here.

Prof. George Brooke’s inaugural lecture asks: to what should the Dead Sea Scrolls be compared? Over the years, many comparisons have been offered: sometimes with texts from the second millennium BCE, sometimes with texts from the Middle Ages, and with everything in between. Comparisons have also been made with items from Babylon to Italy, and from Asia Minor to Egypt. How should such comparisons be controlled? What makes a comparison appropriate? With eight examples from the Bible to the Copper Scroll, from Libraries to Voluntary Associations, the lecture will address some of the issues as it seeks to locate and illuminate the Dead Sea Scrolls within a broader comparative frame of reference.

George J. Brooke
George J. Brooke is Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis Emeritus at the University of Manchester where he taught Biblical Studies and Early Judaism from 1984 until 2016. He completed his Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate School, California, in 1978 under the direction of William H. Brownlee, one of the first scholars to touch the scrolls in 1948 when they were brought to the American School for Oriental Research in Jerusalem. Since 1992 he has been a member of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s international team of editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls and is currently working on a revised edition of a series of manuscripts from Qumran’s Cave 4. He was a founding editor of the journal Dead Sea Discoveries (Brill, 1993-2003). In 1999 he was the President of the British Association for Jewish Studies. Awarded a D.D. from Oxford University in 2010, he was President for 2012 of the British Society for Old Testament Study. He is also Visiting Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Chester.

15:30   Arrivals
15:45   Welcome by Mladen Popović (Dean, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies)
15:50   Presentation of Dirk Smilde Fellowship 2018 and Dirk Smilde Scholarship 2018 by Sibrandes Poppema (President, University of Groningen)
15:55   Lecture, George J. Brooke, A Summer’s Day? With What Shall We Compare the Dead Sea Scrolls?
16:40   Response by Dr. Gareth Wearne, Dirk Smilde Scholarship recipient
16:50   Questions and discussion
17:15   Drinks at Faculty of Theology & Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38)

Dirk Smilde
Through the University’s Ubbo Emmius Fund, Mr. Dirk Smilde (1926–2013) made a generous multi-year financial commitment to the Qumran Institute. By associating his name to the fellowship – unique in the Netherlands – we want to honour the important role and financial contributions of Dirk Smilde towards the research of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of Groningen. With this fellowship it is possible for leading researchers in the field to come to the Qumran Institute for a while, conduct research and share knowledge with other researchers. This fellowship is awarded every two years. The Dirk Smilde Scholarship is meant for excellent PhD students and postdocs in the fields of Hebrew Bible, early Judaism and Dead Sea Scrolls.

The previous Dirk Smilde Fellowships were awarded to Professor Steve Mason (2014) and Professor Benjamin Wright (2016). This year’s Dirk Smilde Scholarships have been awarded to Dr. Gareth Wearne and Robert Jones, MA.

Professor Brooke’s Inaugural Lecture will also start the 2018 Dirk Smilde Research Seminar.

Dirk Smilde Research Seminar 2018
Comparative Studies with Special Reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls

This research seminar addresses the broad theme of Comparative Studies as applied to Judaism in antiquity with special reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially those from the Qumran caves. In recent years the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Qumran caves have moved from being representative of a small marginal sectarian group in Judea in the three centuries before the fall of the Temple in 70 CE to being understood as a major textual resource for the understanding of Judaism in the Levant of the time of Hillel and Jesus. Though there remains a need for the careful description of the origins of each composition, their discovery together in the caves at and near Qumran provides a key starting point for their appreciation; in fact, such location and dating provides a relatively firm and fixed reference point which can be used as the basis for comparative analysis. There remains room for much further work on how their significance should be articulated and how comparative data should be selected and used.
The Research Seminar will have as its backbone a series of lectures by the 2018 Dirk Smilde Professorial Research Fellow, George Brooke. In six lectures between February and May, he will address the topic of Comparative Studies in relation to the Dead Sea Scrolls. His series of lectures will begin on Friday 2nd February 2018 with an inaugural presentation: “A Summer’s Day? With What Shall We Compare the Dead Sea Scrolls?” Five further lectures will engage with the methodologies of comparative studies, especially as those might be applied to the Scrolls, and several other topics as listed in the schedule below.
Those participating in the seminar will take it in turns to engage Comparative Studies from the broad range of their specialist interests. Topics to be addressed in the weekly seminars led by participants might include:

  • Historiography
  • Aramaic compositions
  • Canonisation processes
  • Magic
  • Calendars
  • Cultural Studies
  • Comparative Theory

The Dirk Smilde Research Seminar creates a stimulating environment for students and young researchers to learn to do independent research and to share that with their international peers and an international senior top researcher. Every student is responsible for a specific seminar meeting, thereby acquiring organisational, leadership and realization skills.

February 8 . . .
February 15 George Brooke: Comparing Methods and Theories
February 22 . . .
March 1 . . .
March 8 George Brooke: Comparing Contexts
March 15 . . .
March 22 . . .
April 5 George Brooke: Comparing Texts and their Interpretations
April 12 Guest Lecture. Eibert Tigchelaar, KU Leuven: Comparing Zoroastrian, Middle-Platonic, and Early Jewish Pneumatology
April 19 . . .
April 26 George Brooke: Comparing Rules and Rituals
May 17 . . .
May 24 . . .
May 30 10:00–12:00   Guest Lecture. Hindy Najman and Arjen Bakker, University of Oxford: Thinking Divine Thoughts: Perfection, Imitation and Time in Jewish Antiquity
13:30–15:30   George Brooke: Comparing the Incomparable

All meetings will be held at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), from 16.15-18.00 hrs, unless otherwise noted.

Readings for each class will be announced in due time.
Teachers/coordinator: Prof. dr. George J. Brooke (Manchester University/Chester University) and Prof. dr. Mladen Popović (coordinator)
For full schedule and meeting locations, click here.