The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Church: Can Any Adventist Thing Come out of Qumran?

Speaker: Categories: Mar 14, 2009


[1hr, 16min, 24sec / 58min]


Almost all of the SDAF presentations this Forum year (since July) have addressed current issues confronting Adventism. The March meeting will depart from this trend in focusing on a topic which, though of current interest, has its origin two millennia ago.

We became acquainted with this month's presenter, Doug Clark, nearly five years ago when he, joined by his archeologist colleague from Canadian University College, Dr. Larry Herr, directed the sessions at SDAF Retreat #7, May 14-16, 2004, at Pine Springs Ranch. At that time Dr. Clark was a professor at Walla Walla College.

"This March 14 presentation,"assures Dr. Clark,"will discuss the Dead Sea Scrolls in the context of Adventist belief and practice. Beginning with definitions and descriptions. of the scrolls, their contexts and their contents, we will be in a position to make comparisons with Adventist theological, sociological and practical issues."

"The Dead Sea Scrolls, as is well known,"he continues,"were discovered over a time span of several decades starting in 1947. Most appeared in caves near the settlement of Qumran along the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. A comprehensive search revealed more scrolls located around and to the south of Qumran, all the way south to Masada."

"Conventional wisdom has it that the inhabitants of Qumran were Essenes, one of the sects of Judaism near and during the time of Christ, who collected and preserved scrolls, many originally produced elsewhere, around the third through first centuries BC, and that they also wrote additional scrolls which became part of the Qumran library. With some passing of time, these came to be treated almost as Scripture. Qumran seems to have lasted from the late second century BC until AD 68 when the Romans destroyed the place. Challenges to these reigning hypotheses have come and gone but without taking away from their primary value and validity."

"The objective in this illustrated presentation,"notes Doug Clark,"is to compare and contrast what we can know about the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the theology of the Interdepartmental and New Testament literature and, through them, with that of Adventism. A primary focus here will be on apocalyptic thought and literature. Common elements in behaviors and standards apparent in the life of the communities of Qumran will be compared with Adventism."


Douglas R. Clark is Associate Dean of the School of Religion at La Sierra University and Director of the University Honors Program. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, he graduated from Walla Walla University with majors in Theology and Biblical Languages. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University, and then completed another Masters degree and Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic Judaism at Vanderbilt University.

He has taught at Southwestern Adventist University, Walla Walla University and served as Executive Director of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Boston. Having authored, co-authored, and coedited eight volumes, he has also published over 110 articles in scholarly and popular journals and books and has lectured around the world on over 125 occasions. He currently serves as Director of the Madaba Plains Project excavations at Tall al-'Umayri, Jordan, a project celebrating this year its 40th anniversary of recovering the past of the biblical world. He and his wife, Carmen, have two sons, both married, and three grandchildren.

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