It has been just over one year since Professor Alan Crown passed away, and I spent a couple of days last week at a Dead Sea Scrolls conference that was organised in his honour by Associate Professor Ian Young and Dr Shani Tzoref. Our keynote speaker was Emeritus Professor Emanuel Tov, whose paper on the pre-Samaritan Qumran scrolls and their relationship to the Samaritan Pentateuch was one of the conference’s highlights. A former editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project, Professor Tov remains one of the foremost experts in Qumranic scribal practise, the development of the Hebrew Masoretic Text, and the Septuagint. His most recent publication is the third edition of his highly-recommended Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, which I have been assiduously using in its first edition for several years.
We were also very pleased to welcome Dr Shani Tzoref, one of the two conveners of the conference, whose paper on the history of Dead Sea Scrolls research was fascinating. Dividing it into three successive periods, Shani remarked upon the various stages of Qumranic research, and the impact that they have had upon the presentation of the results (not to mention the nature of the results themselves), and their reception by the general scholarly community. Shani is presently involved in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls Digitization Project, scanning the fragments using multi-spectral imaging and, in partnership with Google, uploading them to the internet. The five scrolls that they have finished uploading so far are 1QIsaa (“Great Isaiah Scroll”), 1QM (“War Scroll”), 1QpHab (“Pesher Habakkuk”), 11Q19 (“The Temple Scrolla“) and 1QS (“Community Rule”). They can all now be viewed online, and prompt an important question: what does the future hold for the expansion of Qumranic research as an open, inter-disciplinary enterprise?
Other highlights included Ian Young’s “Loose Language in 1QIsaa“, in which he considered the linguistic profile of the Great Isaiah Scroll, a paper on the layout of 1QpHab that was delivered by three Macquarie University students (Stephanie Ng, Alexandra Wrathall and Gareth Wearne), and Prof. William Loader’s paper on eschatology and sexuality in Qumran. Unfortunately, as neither Prof. Loader nor Prof. Albert Baumgarten could be with us (the former stuck in Perth and the latter in Alice Springs – both with tickets to fly Qantas to Sydney), Prof. Loader’s paper was read by Ian and Prof. Baumgarten’s paper was replaced with an opportunity for general discussion.
Alan would have been rather bemused by so many people turning up to an event in his honour, but the papers all dealt with topics that were close to his heart and his expertise was certainly missed.