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Expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls passes away

Expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls passes away

THE death has taken place of Professor Geza Vermes who was a world authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was 88.

Professor Vermes had battled with archaeological authorities in Israel to secure full publication of the Scrolls — which are early manuscripts of some Old Testament scriptures.

The first of the Scrolls had been discovered in 1947 in a cave near the Dead Sea by a young Arab shepherd. Over the next nine years, other associated texts were discovered.

Professor Vermes had eventually been able to identify that the Scrolls belonged to the middle of the 2nd. century BC. He first published his book The Dead Sea Scrolls in English in 1962. The fourth edition of the book was published in 1997.

Copies of the Scrolls were lodged in the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 1992.

Professor Vermes had first held the post of Reader of Jewish Studies at Oxford in 1965 before becoming professor — a post he was to hold until 1991.

He had been born in Hungary to Jewish parents who converted to Catholicism in the 1930. By the time of the Second World War, the young Vermes was a Roman Catholic Priest. This position was to save him from being sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis. However, his parents could not be saved.

He left the priesthood in 1957 to get married and later returned to the Jewish faith.

Professor Vermes had published many books over his career. As well as being an authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls he was also regarded as one of the greatest scholars on Jesus.

To view footage from a lecture given by Professor Vermes at Louisiana State University’s Hill Memorial Library in 2009, click here.

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