Prof. Dr. Mladen Popović, director of the
of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, will award Prof. Dr. Steve Mason the inaugural Dirk Smilde Fellowship on 20 September 2013. The ceremony will take place in the Drents Museum in Assen, location of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition.
Prof. Steve Mason (University of Aberdeen)is the first Dirk Smilde Fellow to start in the academic year 2013-2014. He shall stay at the Qumran Institute from January through May 2014. Prof. Mason is a leading specialist on the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, the Jewish religion of the early Roman period, and Jewish cultural interactions with Greek and Roman culture. He is editor-in-chief of the first commentary series on Josephus (published by Brill, Leiden). His research focuses on the wider cultural and historical context of the world Josephus was living in. Prof. Mason’s research is a perfect match with the research of the Qumran Institute and the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.
The Dirk Smilde Fellowship will enable top researchers to work in Groningen at the Qumran Institute for a certain period, ranging from three up to six months. Every other year a new fellow will be appointed. During their stay, fellows work on a specific theme within early Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is of wider interest concerning the study of antiquity. By appointing these top researchers, more and more people from all around the world will find their way to Groningen. Thus, the Qumran Institute can profile itself even more as a national and international leading platform on the study of early Judaism and Dead Sea Scrolls.
Through the University’s Ubbo Emmius Fund, Mr. Dirk Smilde (1926-2013) made a generous multi-year financial commitment to the Qumran Institute. By associating his name to this fellowship – unique in the Netherlands – we want to honour the important role and financial contributions of Dirk Smilde towards the research of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of Groningen.
Instead of viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls in isolation, at the Qumran Institute these texts are being studied in the broader religious and cultural context of the ancient world. The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in the Drents Museum, made by the Qumran Institute, is a perfect example of the Groningen approach to the study of religion and culture. The Institute is part of the department, ‘Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins’, which was recently judged as performing world leading research by an international assessment committee. This makes the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen the best performing faculty in the Netherlands and the top centre of expertise in the field of religion, culture and society.
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