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Level 6

6AAT3101 Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee this module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Jonathan Norton
Assessment: One 2,500-word essay (40%) and one two-hour examination (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: Two-hour weekly classes over ten weeks.
Availability: view module availability for current/next academic year
Pre-requisites: none

This module will introduce students with or without Hebrew language to the Dead Sea Scrolls within the overall world of Second Temple Judaism. The approach will be to understand the Scrolls within their socio-historical context. The module will focus on the history of the Scrolls’ discovery and publication, the scholarly interpretations of key texts, interpretations of the site of Qumran, and current debates.  The main corpus of the Scrolls will be introduced, and concepts of the Biblical canon, law and interpretation, Messianic figures, angels and demons, healing, purity and impurity, gender, identity/community and eschatology will be reviewed. We will also consider the role of the media in responding to the Scrolls and creating public interest, and explore popular presentations of the Scrolls today. Students will read and discuss the meaning of key texts, and be expected to give short presentations on scholarly literature and/or contemporary interpretations.

Course Text Book

All students will need to purchase and bring to lectures 3 onwards the following:

  • Geza Vermes (ed.), The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (2004)


  • Florentino Garcia Martinez, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, 2nd ed. (1994)

Further information

Module aims


Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate intellectual and practical skills appropriate to a level 6 module;

Generic skills

  • Students will be competent in understanding an important field of study in terms of the history of Judaism and early Christianity;
  • they will be able to summarise and present arguments;
  • they will be able to research, plan and present essays in this subject, and also be able to give presentations according to specific deadlines and defined topics.

Module-soecific skills

  • Students will gain an understanding the overall corpus of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with specific knowledge of key texts;
  • they will be able to debate the issues of the Scrolls and their context that continue to be the subject of much vigorous scholarly exploration and public interest;
  • students will gain a deeper knowledge of the period of Jesus and the emerging church/ Second Temple Judaism;
  • those with Hebrew language will have the opportunity to engage with Hebrew texts (and there is also some opportunity for Greek readers);
  • those with an interest in archaeology will have an opportunity to explore issues of interpretation regarding physical data and its application to the interpretation of texts;
  • those with interests in the contemporary presentation of religious subjects in the media (RCW) will be able to explore facets of this topic.


module availability
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