Discuss and celebrate the Dead Sea Scrolls

Brandeis hosts events in conjunction with exhibit at Museum of Science

Photo/Darryl Moran/The Franklin Institute

On Oct. 20, the Museum of Science exhibition, “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life in Ancient Times,” co-sponsored by Brandeis University, will close. Between now and then, Brandeis will host several events to discuss and celebrate the mystery, impact and importance of these ancient scrolls, discovered decades ago in a cave overlooking the Dead Sea.

On Oct. 5, Eric Chasalow, the Irving Fine Professor of Music, will premier “Where it Finds Nothing But the Wind,” an original composition inspired by the scrolls and performed by the Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble. The performance will feature renowned soprano Tony Arnold.

Chasalow worked closely with Marc Brettler, the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, and David Wright, professor of Bible and the Ancient Near East, to understand the scrolls’ language and historical context. His goal was to make those ancient words, “come alive.”

“I wanted to pull the voices that would be powerful in music out of the scrolls and use them to invite the listener into this rich world,” Chasalow says. 

Best known for merging traditional instruments with computer sound, Chasalow uses a combination of live performers and electronics to transport listeners to ancient times. The piece is scored for flute and percussion — two of the world’s oldest instruments — and a guitar to invoke another ancient instrument, the harp. 

In addition to Arnold’s voice, Chasalow says he is layering disembodied voices into the electronics to evoke the voices of those who wrote the scrolls. 

“The scrolls themselves are fragmented and I wanted to reflect that in the music," Chasalow says. “Here the fragments emerge and coalesce and turn into music and become hidden again, like the hidden mysteries of the scrolls.”

The concert will be held at 8 p.m. in the Slosberg Music Center.

On Oct. 6, Brandeis is hosting the Dead Sea Scrolls: Life in Ancient Times Graduate Symposium at the Mandel Center for the Humanities. Twelve graduate students from around the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, New York University and the University of Chicago, will present papers on a range of scroll topics. 

Distinguished scroll scholars Brettler and Lawrence Schiffman ’70, PhD’74, vice provost for undergraduate education at Yeshiva University, will speak at the symposium.  

Other events include a lecture with Boston University professor of religion Jonathan Klawans, on Sept. 12; two discussions with Greg Bearman MA’75, PhD’76, a pioneer of digital and spectral imaging, on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8; and a lecture on plants of the Bible by Lytton John Musselman, the Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany at Old Dominion University, on Oct. 9. 

For more information visit Dead Sea Scrolls events

Categories: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Research, Science and Technology

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