Museum to present Dead Sea Scrolls lecture on May 6Hershel...

RELIGION NOTES

April 29, 1993|By Frank P. L. Somerville

Museum to present Dead Sea Scrolls lecture on May 6

Hershel Shanks, who campaigned for a decade for more access to the Dead Sea Scrolls, will discuss old and new controversies resulting from the 1947 discovery of the core of the ancient documents in a slide lecture at 6:15 p.m. next Thursday at the Walters Art Gallery.

Mr. Shanks, president of the Washington-based Biblical Archaeology Society and founder and editor of Biblical Archaeology Review magazine, led the successful effort to force a small group of scholars to relinquish their exclusive publication rights to the scrolls.

Before 1991, only half of the scroll texts had been published and disseminated for further study.

"The scrolls were -- and are -- the archaeological find of the century," Mr. Shanks said. "But this charmed circle of researchers had become a bottleneck to their publication. Their rights to publication were so exclusive that they could even be willed upon their death. They literally had no motivation to publish."

After the initial discovery 46 years ago by Bedouin shepherds in a cave about 10 miles east of Jerusalem, other scrolls and scroll fragments -- more than 800 documents in all -- were found in 11 caves in the area. Many of them date from between 200 B.C. and A.D. 50, and contain the earliest known texts of the Hebrew Bible.

In a controversial decision in September 1991, the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., made its microfilms of the Dead Sea Scrolls available to all qualified scholars. The Israeli Department of Antiquities and Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, caretakers of the originals, bowed to the inevitable and the monopoly was broken.

A Washington lawyer, Mr. Shanks first immersed himself in studies of the Bible and the archaeology of the Holy Land when he took his family on a yearlong trip to Israel in 1972. He launched the part-popular, part-scholarly Biblical Archaeology Review on his return to the United States.

"Thanks to the scrolls, we now have a much greater understanding of the complex religious and political currents that led to the formation of modern Judaism and Christianity," he said.

Still to come -- as additional scroll materials are published and studied more widely -- is possible new light on the relationship, if any, between the Jewish sect known as the Essenes and early Christianity. "Who knows? That's the fascinating part," Mr. Shanks said.

Admission to his lecture will be $8 for the general public and $6 for Walters Art Gallery members, students and senior citizens. Information: 547-9000.

Ecumenical honorees:

U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md., Roman Catholic Archbishop William H. Keeler of Baltimore and Eleanor Mann, who has headed a local program providing Christmas gifts for institutionalized children, will be honored May 16 at the annual awards dinner of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council.

Mr. Sarbanes, as recipient of the group's Christian Life Award, will be cited for "exemplifying the tenets of his Christian faith in the conduct of his public office." He is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Archbishop Keeler will receive the Rev. Dr. Bryce Shoemaker Ecumenical Leadership Award for interfaith activities locally and nationally.

Mrs. Mann will be honored not only for her Christmas project but for her participation in the ecumenical council's peace and justice programs. The dinner will be at 6 p.m. at the Annunciation Orthodox Center, 24 W. Preston St., following a 4:30 p.m. reception. For ticket information: 467-6194.

Loyola Academy:

The private middle school scheduled to open in August in the old Loyola College building in the 700 block of N. Calvert St. has received a $150,000 Abell Foundation grant, matching a similar sum from the Maryland Province of the Jesuit religious order.

The Rev. William Watters, S.J., president of the new St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, said, "This grant from the Abell Foundation will enable the academy to fulfill its promise of providing a quality, tuition-free education for its students."

He said the academy is recruiting boys from low-income families in Baltimore "who would otherwise not have the opportunity to obtain this kind of education." Apart from a monthly $10 fee, each student's tuition will be covered through scholarships, Father Watters said.

Information: 727-3848.

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