WKU Libraries presented Joseph Trafton, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at WKU, who spoke on â€œThe Dead Sea Scrollsâ€ as part of the “Far Away Places Series” at Barnes & Noble Bookstore (1680 Campbell Lane) on the evening of March 19th, 2009.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in eleven caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between the years 1947 and 1956. The area is 13 miles east of Jerusalem and is 1300 feet below sea level. The mostly fragmented texts, are numbered according to the cave that they came out of. They have been called the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.
Trafton, who has a M.T.S. and Th.M. from the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a PhD from Duke, was first introduced to the Dead Sea Scrolls during his masters work in a course on the Jewish setting of the New Testament. He continued studying about the scrolls at Duke. When his adviser moved to the Princeton Theological Seminary, Joe was invited to be part of an international team of scholars assembled to edit and translate the scrolls called the Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project. He was assigned five fragmentary scrolls, the first of which was published in 2002. As part of his research he has traveled to Israel and visited Qumran, the archaeological site connected with the scrolls. At WKU he teaches an undergraduate course on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In addition to this work on the â€œscrollsâ€ Joe is the author of two books, The Syriac Version of the Psalms of Solomon published by the Society of Biblical Literature, and Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary published in the â€œReading the New Testament Seriesâ€ by Smyth & Helwys in 2005. One reviewer called it â€œa balanced approach to Revelation that makes good use of contemporary scholarship.â€