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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Late Summer Lectures: The Scribe's Handbook: Scribal Practice, Writing and Literature in the Ancient World of the Bible

4th September 2012, 17:30 to 19:00, Alington House, Durham, Lindsey Arielle Askin and Laura Elizabeth Quick (Department of Theology and Religion)

The Late Summer Lectures (LSLS) is a series organised in Durham and Newcastle to foster interest in the Arts and Humanities. For more information on the LSLS, please visit our Facebook Page:

The same lecture will also be presented at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle, the following day.

We will approach questions of writing and scribal education, what scribes believed about literature and languages, what it meant to be ‘literate’ in the ancient world, and what all this—along with discoveries gleaned from the compositional practices evidenced in the literary corpora of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ancient Babylon, and at Ugarit—can tell us about the formation of the Bible. This discussion will be augmented by two case studies specifically relating to our current research: our first study will take a thematic approach, in which Laura Quick will present on scribal practices and their relation to literary representations of dreams in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern literature; our second study, conducted by Lindsey Askin, will be more substantive, concerned with the scribal practice of Jesus ben Sira, a Jewish scribe and philosopher from late 3rd century BCE. We intend the lecture to be interactive and accessible to a wide range of ages, using lots of visuals and teaching aids about how to read ancient writing scripts and how to reconstruct Dead Sea Scrolls fragments. It is intended to provide a glimpse for the non-specialist of the changing face of current biblical scholarship through an account of the legacy of the ancient scribal world that helped define our Judeo-Christian Western culture today, and so to demonstrate how historical studies of scribal activity can offer a firmer, more empirical basis for understanding the formation of sacred literature.

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