Dead Sea Scrolls lecture kicks off World Cultures

Benjamin Cruz

Benjamin Cruz
City Times

The World Cultures program at City College opened their fall schedule with a lecture to remind students that one of the most significant findings of the 20th century has come to San Diego.

The presentation began at 9:30 in the morning with Co-Director, Professor Karen Lim, introducing Professor Meehan as the presenter with Damian Salvaggio running the slide show.

Meehan’s lecture focused on the who, what, when, where and why’s of the Dead Sea Scrolls. For example, she said that it’s now commonly accepted by many scholars that a Jewish sect, the Essenes authored or copied texts (biblical, apocryphal and sectarian) while living in Qumran between the 2nd century B.C.E. and the 1st century C.E.

The scrolls themselves were found between 1947 and 1956 in caves near the Dead Sea by an old goat herder. They contain enough information to fill this entire issue. So, Meehan’s presentation focused on the important aspects of the scrolls, making the exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum a “must see” for those who’ve never heard of the scrolls.

Meehan showed the links between the scrolls and their prehistory in Judaic traditions and their broader links to Judeo-Christian cultures. She also emphasized the multi-disciplinary nature of scholarship on the scrolls bringing together experts in the sciences and humanities alike.

“Students should know what life was like back then. What were the Essenes thinking about? The Dead Sea Scrolls offer that,” Meehan said.

“The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th Century,” Meehan added. “They predate the earliest Hebrew bible, the St. Petersburg’s Codex, by over one thousand years.” The scrolls include well known texts like Deuteronomy, the Psalms and the famous Copper Scroll.

“The presentation was very good. Lots of info,” Professor Elisa Orozco-Toops said. “I’m very pleased City had it because now I’m going to see the Dead Sea Scrolls in Balboa Park. It’s a once in a lifetime deal.”

“She told the stories behind the Dead Sea Scrolls. It motivated me to go see the exhibition because they may not travel anymore in two years,” City student Marsha Raskin said.

Lim said the idea of the Dead Sea Scrolls presentation came from a faculty and staff visit to the Natural History Museum where the scrolls are currently on display.

“This summer, our president took 50 faculty and staff members to the museum. We are just expanding it to students,” Lim said.

Lim also mentioned that the Dead Sea Scrolls may no longer travel in about two years because of the fragile nature of the scrolls.

“This truly is a lifetime opportunity. Students should go, even if they know little about them,” Meehan said. “People, after the fact, tell themselves that they should have gone.”

So, if you missed the lecture about the Dead Sea Scrolls, World Cultures at City invites students to see the actual Dead Sea Scrolls at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Though World Cultures grant proposals, faculty can take a group of student to the Museum. Applications can be obtained in A-2 or call (619) 388-3552 for more information.