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‘With What Shall We Compare the Dead Sea Scrolls?’

Dirk Smilde Fellowship Inaugural Lecture by Professor George Brooke
19 January 2018
Prof.dr. George J. Brooke

On Friday 2 February 2018 , Prof. George J. Brooke will give his inaugural lecture as the third Dirk Smilde Fellow at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen. Professor Brooke will work at the Faculty’s Qumran Institute for a period of four months.


Dead Sea Scrolls

George J. Brooke is Emeritus Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, where he taught Biblical Studies and Early Judaism from 1984 until 2016. He completed his PhD at Claremont Graduate School, California, in 1978 under the supervision of William H. Brownlee, one of the first scholars to touch the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948 when they were brought to the American School for Oriental Research in Jerusalem. Professor Brooke will formally accept his position as a Dirk Smilde Professorial Research Fellow by way of an inaugural lecture on Friday 2 February, titled ‘A Summer’s Day? With What Shall We Compare the Dead Sea Scrolls?’

A Summer’s Day

This lecture asks a question concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls: to what should they be compared? Over the years, many comparisons have been offered: sometimes with texts from the second millennium BCE, sometimes with texts from the Middle Ages, and with everything in between. Comparisons have also been made with items from Babylon to Italy, and from Asia Minor to Egypt. The title of the lecture refers to William Shakespeare’s sonnet number 18 which is about comparison: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate / … Professor Brooke will talk about this explicitly in the opening part of the lecture.


How should comparisons of the Dead Sea Scrolls be approached? What makes a comparison appropriate? With eight examples from the Bible to the Copper Scroll, from Libraries to Voluntary Associations, the lecture will address some of these issues as it seeks to locate and illuminate the Dead Sea Scrolls within a broader comparative frame of reference. For instance, Brooke will discuss the question of whether the community who lived at Qumran on the North-West shore of the Dead Sea in the two centuries before the fall of the temple in 70 CE (or the larger movement that they belonged to, normally taken to be the Essenes) can be compared with classical voluntary associations.

Eminent scholar in Dead Sea Scrolls studies

Prof. Mladen Popović, Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, is delighted with the appointment of Prof. Brooke : ‘ George Brooke is one of the most eminent scholars in Dead Sea Scrolls studies and we are very fortunate to have him as the Dirk Smilde Professorial Research Fellow 2018’, he says. ‘George has a great eye for detail and nuance, zooming in, as well as a broad view of the field and beyond, not only the ancient context, but also later traditions and broader cultural contexts. He is a great teacher and his stay in Groningen will enable our students to learn directly from one of the great scholars of biblical texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls.’

Six lectures

In addition to the regular Dirk Smilde Research Seminar meetings, Professor Brooke will give six lectures, including his inaugural lecture, that will be published as the first Dirk Smilde Lectures. In these lectures, he will address the topic of Comparative Studies in relation to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The series of lectures will begin with his inaugural lecture on Friday 2 February. Five further lectures between February and 31 May 2018 will engage with the methodologies of comparative studies, especially as they might be applied to the Scrolls.

Inaugural lecture

On 2 February, the Dirk Smilde Fellowship 2018 will be presented by Sibrand Poppema, President of the Board of the University of Groningen. After the presentation, Professor Brooke will give his inaugural lecture. The ceremony will be held in the Doopsgezinde Kerk in Groningen. If you wish to attend, please register by filling in the registration form below.

When:           Fri 02-02-2018

Start:             3.30 p.m.

End:               6.15 p.m.

Where:          Van Swinderen Huys, Oude Boteringestraat 19, Groningen

Last modified:23 May 2022 4.23 p.m.
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