Summer 2022 Adult Sunday School: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Calvin Lounge and on Zoom.

Starting Sunday, July 10, we will embark on a new Adult Sunday School Class at FPCE, based on the Teaching Company lecture series, The Dead Sea Scrolls. This class is a deep dive into one of the most significant discoveries ever in Biblical archeology.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered beginning in 1947, near the site of Qumran, an ancient Jewish religious community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The Qumran community was active from the 2nd century BC into the 1st century AD, until about the time of the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. The Qumran community was deeply pious and steeped in scripture and other religious literature, much of which was preserved in caves in the cliffs above Qumran.

These are the oldest known copies of most of the books of the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament. The Dead Sea Scrolls also include many ancient Jewish writings that were previously unknown. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a window into the life of a particular Jewish sect, the Essenes, about which very little was known before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Particularly exciting for Christians is that the Qumran community was active and thriving in the same period that saw the birth of Christianity.

There are many similarities in thought and piety between the Qumran community and the early church, as well some marked differences (the Qumran community were not followers of Jesus).

The Dead Sea Scrolls are also a window into the variety of Jewish beliefs and practices that were present during Jesus’ ministry on earth. Just as we found in our recent course on “lost Christianities,” there were many varieties of Jewish thought, belief, and practice at the time of the early church, most of which have faded in influence, if not disappeared.

The Professor for The Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Gary Rendsburg, is a leader in Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship. He has an obvious love and passion for his subject, which adds greatly to the enjoyability of the course. I can think of no better way, barring becoming a scholar of ancient Hebrew, to gain a deep knowledge and understanding of the Jewish roots of Christianity than to participate in this class. As with all the Teaching Company courses, there is no requirement for preparation for the classes, and you can drop in on any lecture at any time you are able and still gain precious knowledge and insights.