“I love teaching because it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to me because now they know about this part of history,” said Dr. Adolfo Roitman, curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls. On October 10, Roitman visited Anderson University to participate in the 31st Newell Lecture Series and to speak about his role as curator of the scrolls and the head of the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The day consisted of one general lecture, two scholarly lectures, and a question and answer session.
The day was organized by Dr. Gilbert Lozano and Dr. Kimberly Majeski, professors of biblical studies in the School of Theology. “Dr. Lozano is originally from Columbia, Brazil and knew of Dr. Roitman, who is Argentinean, and so off the cuff he e-mailed him to see if he would be open to doing the Newell Lectures this year,” explained Dr. Gregory Robertson, associate professor of Christian theology. It worked out that Roitman was going to be in North America at the time of the lecture, between trips to Jamaica and Mexico, and agreed to be a part of the Newell Lecture.
Throughout the day, Roitman spoke about the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the historical context behind them. He also showed a video that sends the viewer back in time to better understand the time period that they would have been written. “When it comes down to it these were real humans living a real experience, so the video was really helpful for me to see it come alive, to see the way that they might have lived, and how they really took to heart the idea of being a human sanctuary,” said Emily Clark, an SOT student.
The overall response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive, and it has prompted Roitman and the Israel Museum to create a new video to complement the original. “If people see the video without seeing the artifacts in the museum,” said Roitman, “then they are seeing it out of context.” Of course, not everyone can travel to Jerusalem to see these artifacts firsthand, so the Israel Museum has been working on a $100,000 project to be released in the middle of 2013.
“In each scene of the movie, you will be able to stop it and retrieve the behind-the-scenes information,” said Roitman. This will become a tool for scholars and teachers who wish to explain more about the Dead Sea Scrolls to students and other audiences.
Many undergraduate and SOT students attended the lectures, including Ashley Fletcher, an SOT student working on her Master of Divinity. “It was a wonderful privilege to hear Dr. Roitman communicate his passion for the spiritual treasure of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” she said. “His discussion of the interfaith dialogue made possible as a result of this scholarship was particularly profound. I was grateful this conversation could come to Anderson through the generosity of the Newells.”
The couple for whom the series is named, Dr. Arlo and Helen Newell, attended the lectures and Robertson was excited to be able to express his gratitude for their help in bringing such a scholar to AU. “I thanked them for their great gift they give to the campus to be able to have this exposure to scholarship from around the world year in and year out,” he said.
Rob Heaton, an SOT student who spent the summer in Israel, felt like he learned a lot from Roitman’s lectures since he is a leader in this field. “I saw the same sort of phenomenon when I was in Israel; it’s not often that you hear from someone who does this for a living. When I was at some archaeological sites, for example, I happened on tours that were led by people who had excavated there for many years. In the same manner, Dr. Roitman has been studying the Dead Sea Scrolls for his lifetime and he came to impart his knowledge on us. It’s very beneficial to the university.”
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.