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Samaritan Scholar Visits APU

by University Relations

Author and historian Benyamin Tsedaka visited APU December 5–6, 2011, to view the university’s Dead Sea Scroll (DSS) fragments and present an insightful lecture about ancient customs in the political and social life of Samaritans in Israel, as well as the most significant differences between the Samaritan and Jewish versions of the Pentateuch.

An expert on ancient Israelite-Samaritan documents, and 1 of only 750 living Samaritans in the world, Tsedaka speaks internationally about the Israelite Samaritans, descendants of the ancient kingdom of Israel, and their separation from the Israelite Jews, descendants of the Kingdom of Judah.

Tsedaka expressed special interest in the fragment APU acquired in 2009 of Deuteronomy 27:4–6, which scholars believe came from Cave 4 at Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls library includes the earliest known texts of the Hebrew Bible, some of which date to 250 B.C., and were discovered between 1947–56. This DSS fragment contains a rare Samaritan variant that reads “Mt. Gerizim” in Deuteronomy 27:4, as does the Samaritan Pentateuch.

“It was an honor to welcome Mr. Tsedaka to our campus,” said Karen Winslow, Ph.D., professor of biblical studies in the Graduate School of Theology and director of the Free Methodist Center. “Most people do not realize that Samaritans continue to live in Israel near ancient Shechem and worship on nearby Mt. Gerizim. This visit presented an extraordinary opportunity for the APU community to meet a Samaritan elder and hear about Samaritan Scriptures and other traditions. Mr. Tsedaka is a living witness to the diversity engendered by the biblical tradition.”

Originally published in the Spring '12 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).