May 4, 2011


Kampen publishes Wisdom Literature

MTSO Professor John Kampen, an eminent scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls, has contributed a significant volume to the study of the scrolls with the publication of Wisdom Literature. The book, published in March, is the second volume of Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls, a 16-volume set that provides English translation and extensive commentary on many of these texts for the first time.

It's the latest product in an expansive body of work by Kampen. He is the author or editor of four other books and contributor to reference works such as The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls and The Anchor Bible Dictionary.

Kampen, the Dunn Professor of Biblical Interpretation, served as MTSO's academic dean from 2005 to 2009. His diverse educational background includes a BA in sociology from the University of Saskatchewan, an M.Div. from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and a Ph.D. from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.

With expertise in rabbinic literature, Dead Sea Scrolls literature and the New Testament, Kampen is uniquely qualified to author not only Wisdom Literature but his upcoming book for Yale University Press, Matthew Within Judaism: The Changing Face of Jewish and Christian Origins. He describes this current project as "a book to place Matthew within the changing perceptions of Jewish history of the first century as influenced by the Dead Sea Scrolls."

The texts covered in Wisdom Literature weren't available for study until 1991. This is the first comprehensive collection of them in a format accessible to the non-specialist.

"For students of early Christianity, there is a text with a set of beatitudes similar to those of the Sermon on the Mount," Kampen says. "Others portray wisdom as a female figure and call her opponent 'The Evil Seductress.'"

He has relished the opportunity to contribute to the fresh understanding of these millennia-old but newly discovered resources.

"The Dead Sea Scrolls are the most significant materials available describing beliefs and practices at the time when two of the major religions of the present world began, Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity," he says. "They're also a significant cultural artifact for the development of some of the central ideas of the Western world."

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Danny Russell, director of communications, 740-362-3322