Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module THEO53830: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO53830: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap


  • Hebrew at elementary undergraduate level


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to an up-to-date understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls with reference to: - the history of scholarship since their discover in 1947 until the present - the literary genres and types of material contained in this corpus (documents known previously – ‘biblical’ and other; new documents –parabiblical, biblical interpretation, rewriting of tradition, Yahad documents) - archaeology of Khirbet Qumran - palaeography and scribal practices in the manuscripts - history of the Yahad community - significance for the study of Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity
  • To provide students with an awareness of the methods required for investigative research in the Dead Sea scrolls
  • To introduce students to specialised bibliographical and research tools in the study of the Scrolls.


  • This module has two emphases. Lectures and seminar discussions during Michalemas term will enable students to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the tools and methods of the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls (e.g., material reconstruction, palaeography, traditional history or redaction criticism) and to assess in a critical way important theories about the relationship between the Scrolls and the site Khirbet Qumran, about the Scrolls and the communiti(es) responsible for their production, as well as about the contents and clasification of the literature represented in the Scrolls. Furing Epiphany term, the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the interpretation of the New Testament will be explored in the following areas: the interpretation of scripture, Messianic ideas, Wisdom, the Torah, 'magic' as well as community and Temple. The module will include student presentations on assigned topics of reading.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • a broad understanding of the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls library as a whole
  • a critical understanding of the issues and analytical tools (including archaeology, scribal hands and practices, sectarian or non-sectarian language, ideas) which impact on the question of the Scrolls’ origin and social place of composition
  • understanding of the place of the Dead Sea Scrolls within the wider context of Second Temple Judaism and in relation to the rise of Early Christianity
Subject-specific Skills:
  • ability to analyse a particular text or issue/theme among the Dead Sea Scrolls, demonstrating a capacity to interact critical with primary editions of the material and secondary discussions
  • ability to identify characteristics of different scribal hands and to date them palaeographically
  • ability to evaluate texts from the Scrolls against their wider socio-historical and tradition-historical context
Key Skills:
  • advanced research skills, including the ability to identify, evaluate and summarise tradition-historical problems within a primary text
  • analytical skills, which subject second literature to critical analysis in arriving at independent conclusions
  • advanced communication skills, including the ability to construct sophisticated arguments based on interaction with primary materials

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module will be structured around twenty one-hour seminars which are to be held weekly over two terms. During the first ten weeks, lectures will alternate with discussion seminars on assigned topics.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 260
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One 2,000 word book review, one 3,000 word essay and student presentations on select readings and topics.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University