Professor Philip R Davies

Professor Philip R Davies

Professor Philip R Davies

The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise 972 texts, which include what is now known as the Hebrew Bible, found in the Qumran valley on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between 1946 and 1956.  Of these, 220 comprise the earliest known surviving Biblical documents.  Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, mostly on parchment, and of great religious and historical significance, the manuscripts generally date between 150 BC and 70 AD.

The Scrolls are traditionally divided into three groups: “Biblical” manuscripts (copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible), “Apocrypha” (manuscripts that were not ultimately canonized in the Bible) and “Sectarian” manuscripts (previously unknown documents on the rules and beliefs of a particular group or groups within Judaism.

Philip R. Davies (b.1945) is a biblical scholar of Early Judaism, History of Ancient Israel and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  He also has an interest in the development of secular scholarship and contemporary cultural issues.   He has a degree from Oxford (1967) and a doctorate from St Andrews (1972) where his doctoral thesis was on the War Scroll. He has been at the University of Sheffield – where he is now Research Professor of Biblical Studies – since 1974.

A provocative writer on biblical subjects, he has often questioned fundamental assumptions about various issues. His book In Search Of “Ancient Israel” poses the idea that the ancient notion of Israel referred to at least three separate entities, thus putting into question the notion of the “united kingdom” and the structure of the biblical narrative.  Many of his suggestions in this book have subsequently come to be accepted as standard.

He has written 9 works including Whose Bible Is It Anyway? and the subject of his Faclan  talk, The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls (with George J. Brooke, and Phillip R. Callaway).

His talk, illustrated with photographs of the site of discovery, will concentrate on the Scrolls as a religious phenomena rather than the areas of archaeological controversy.

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