Sunday, January 09, 2005

Today I went to the first day's session of the Orion Center's 10th annual conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls, called "New Perspectives on Old Texts." Of the talks that I heard, the one that most interested me was Paul Mandel's, When a Scribe is Not a Scribe: A Second Look at the Enochic Scribal Traditions. He spoke about how the meaning of the Aramaic sappar goes beyond merely one who is skilled in writing and copying documents of various kinds, and also includes one who is skilled in understanding the divine will through divining or through the interpretation of texts, or one who is a kind of envoy of the divine will - for example, like Enoch in 1 Enoch.

The conference is being held in the faculty club of the Hebrew University - Beit Meiersdorf, on the Mt. Scopus campus, and has a beautiful view of the city of Jerusalem, especially the Dome of the Rock with its golden dome (see my photo below). It was pleasant to meet with various scholars, including Professor Rachel Elior, with whom I studied the Hekhalot literature at Hebrew University and who advised me and was a reader for my dissertation on the Hekhalot texts, and Philip Alexander, who has written extensively on the Hekhalot texts (including the translation and commentary on 3 Enoch for the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by J.H. Charlesworth. I am not sure I will have a chance to go to more sessions tomorrow and the next day, since I am leaving Israel on Wednesday and have still scarcely worked on my syllabi for next semester! It has been very nice to be on vacation.

I had not been to the Mt. Scopus campus for a couple of years, and the increase in security was quite noticeable. At each entrance to the campus there are guards to whom one must show identification. I had to show both my passport and a copy of the conference program to prove my bonafides. (This security is a consequence of the bombing attack at the Frank Sinatra cafeteria on July 31, 2002, in which nine people were killed).

No comments:

Post a Comment