People and Ideas on the Move: The Evidence from Qumran, Professor Charlotte Hempel

The settlement by the north western shore of the Dead Sea occupied by a Jewish movement from the 1st c. BCE onwards has for a long time been seen as indicative of the move of a small Jewish community into isolated withdrawal away from Jerusalem. More recently such a perception has been challenged both by archaeologists and experts on the literature from Qumran. This paper will suggest that, by contrast, the Scrolls tell us a great deal about the temple, the establishment, scribal practices and elites. Even if there was a move from Jerusalem then much of the culture and learning moved with those Jews from Jerusalem to the Judean Desert making Qumran, paradoxically, an outstanding resource on key aspects of Second Temple Jerusalem intellectual and religious life.