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Dr Gareth Wearne

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 17 March 2020 (Week 4), 12-2pm

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world. View the schedule for the research seminar.

All are welcome! Please arrive on time and join us after the seminar for coffee, tea and biscuits!

Convenor: Dr Alexandra Woods Twitter


Dr Gareth Wearne | Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Australian Catholic University

2019 Top 5 Humanities and Social Sciences Media Residency

The Dead Sea Scrolls in the Context of Hellenistic Historiography

It is often lamented that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain few historiographical texts, by which is usually meant narrative history of the kinds we find in the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees and later in the writings of Flavius Josephus. On the other hand, it is also widely recognised that many of the Scrolls evince a keen interest in the past, especially as this relates to communal self-definition and identity formation. The aim of this paper is to revisit the question of historiography in the Dead Sea Scrolls and to argue that the corpus reflects an historiographical interest every bit as developed as that of contemporary Hellenistic Jewish Writers. To that end, the paper will ask two questions: (1) In what ways are the Scrolls comparable to wider trends in Second Temple Jewish historiography—especially as attested in the fragments of writers such as Demetrius the Chronographer, Eupolemus, and Cleodemus Malchus? And (2) what functions did historiographical writings serve? By examining the scrolls in this comparative light it is possible to re-evaluate a number of texts and genres—including, inter alia, the admonitions of the Damascus Document, the category of rewritten scripture (e.g. 4Q252), the so-called ‘annalistic calendars’ and ‘historical texts’ (4Q322–4Q324b, 4Q331–4Q333), and the Aramaic chronograph (4Q559)— and to shed new light on the character and composition of the corpus more widely.

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