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Lawrence Schiffman

Lawrence Schiffman. Photo courtesy of Isaac Boyarsky.
Lawrence H. Schiffman

(born 1948) is a professor at New York University (as of 2014);[1] he was formerly Vice-Provost of Undergraduate Education at Yeshiva University and Professor of Jewish Studies (from early 2011 to 2014).[2] He had previously been Chair of New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and served as the Ethel and Irvin A. Edelman Professor in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University (NYU). He is a specialist in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Judaism in Late Antiquity, the history of Jewish law, and Talmudic literature.


  • Education 1
  • Memberships 2
  • Film appearances 3
  • Visiting professorships 4
  • Contributions to the field of Dead Sea Scrolls 5
  • Publications 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Professor Schiffman was a graduate of Great Neck North High School. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University.[3]


Lawrence Schiffman is also a member of the University’s Center for Ancient Studies and Center for Near Eastern Studies. He is a past president of the Association for Jewish Studies. During the academic year 1989/90 he was a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as part of a research group dealing with the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was a member of the academic committee for the Summer, 1997 celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the 2008 60th anniversary conference, both held in Jerusalem. Dr. Schiffman is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and a corresponding fellow of the Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He has been chairman of the Columbia University Seminar for the Study of the Hebrew Bible. He is a member of the board of the World Union for Jewish Studies and the Society for Biblical Literature where he served as chairman of the Qumran section. He is also a member of the Enoch seminar and of the Advisory Board of the Journal Henoch.[4] He is also chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) and led an IJCIC delegation for a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in June 2013, according to the World Jewish Congress.[5]

He served on the academic panel of The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute's Sinai Scholars Society Academic Symposium, and as a scholar-in-residence at The National Jewish Retreat.[6][7]

Film appearances

Schiffman was featured in the PBS Nova series documentary, “Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” as well as in four BBC documentaries on the scrolls, the McNeil-Lehrer program, and a Discovery special. He appears regularly in the popular educational series, “Mysteries of the Bible,” which appears on Arts and Entertainment (A&E), and more recently, in the four-part series “Kingdom of David” on PBS.[8]

Visiting professorships

Schiffman served as director of New York University’s program at the archaeological excavations at Dor, Israel, from 1980–82, in conjunction with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Israel Exploration Society.[9] He has served as visiting professor at Yale University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Duke University, Shier Visiting Distinguished Professor in Judaic Studies at the University of Toronto, the Johns Hopkins University, the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, the Luce Visiting Professor at the University of Hartford and the Hartford Seminary, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Queens College and Yeshiva University.[10]

Contributions to the field of Dead Sea Scrolls

In 1985, Schiffman helped organize a Dead Sea Scrolls conference at New York University, where the field of Dead Sea Scrolls became organized as a separate field in Judaism in Late Antiquity.[11]

He also played a role in the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that led to the full publication of the scrolls and to the decision of the Israel Antiquities Authority to make them fully available to the academic community. He focuses in his research on showing that the Dead Sea Scrolls are Jewish texts and do not have far-reaching and dramatic implications for the study of Christianity.[12]

In 1992/3 Schiffman was a fellow of the Annenberg Research Institute in Philadelphia where he was part of a research team working on the unpublished scrolls. Together with a colleague, he served as editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (2000). In 1991, he was appointed to the team publishing the scrolls in the Oxford series, Discoveries in the Judean Desert. He edited the journal Dead Sea Discoveries for ten years. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Center for Online Judaic Studies in New York.[13]

In 2011, Schiffman was a consultant for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit which showcased the significance of the scrolls at Discovery Times Square.[14] The exhibit, entitled “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times,” brought artifacts from the biblical and Second Temple period to New York. Some of these artifacts (including scrolls) had never been exhibited outside of Israel before.[15]


  • Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)(with James C. VanderKam (eds.).
  • The Halakhah at Qumran (E. J. Brill, 1975)
  • Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Courts, Testimony, and the Penal Code (Scholars Press, 1983)
  • Who Was a Jew? Rabbinic Perspectives on the Jewish-Christian Schism (Ktav, 1985)
  • From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (Ktav, 1991)
  • Halakhah, Halikhah u-Meshihiyut be-Khat Midbar Yehudah (Law, Custom, and Messianism in the Dead Sea Sect) (Merkaz Shazar, 1993)(Hebrew)
  • Hebrew and Aramaic Magical Texts from the Cairo Genizah (Sheffield, 1992)(jointly authored)
  • Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls (Jewish Publication Society, 1994; Doubleday paperback, in the Anchor Research Library, 1995)
  • Texts and Traditions: A Source Reader for the Study of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (Ktav, 1998)
  • Understanding Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (Ktav, 2003)
  • The Courtyards of the House of the Lord: Studies on the Temple Scroll (Brill, 2008).


  1. ^ "Comings and Goings at YU". Yeshiva University. The Commentator. September 10, 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Drew Silver, "Schiffman, Lawrence H." Encyclopedia Judaica (2nd ed.), 18:131-132.
  4. ^ NYU: The Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Lawrence H. Schiffman
  5. ^ Pope: 'A true Christian cannot be an anti-Semite' - World Jewish Congress website, 24 June 2013
  6. ^ Lakein, Dvora. "Chabad's Rohr JLI Offers Retreat to Self". Chabad Lubavtich World HQ/News. Retrieved December 2013. 
  7. ^ Margolin, Dovid (May 20, 2015). "Sinai Scholarship: Top Students, Academics Explore Torah’s Depths at National Forum". Chabad. “The symposium gives participating students a very valuable experience,” says Rabbi Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman, professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University and a world-renowned biblical scholar, who served on the academic panel that judged the winning paper. 
  8. ^ Dead Sea Scrolls Expert Dr. Lawrence Schiffman Named Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation Ezrath Israel in Ellenville, NY
  9. ^ Drew Silver, "Schiffman, Lawrence H." Encyclopedia Judaica (2nd ed.), 18:131-132.
  10. ^ NYU: The Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Lawrence H. Schiffman
  11. ^ Lawrence H. Schiffman, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: How They Changed My Life," Biblical Archaeology Review, 33:04, Jul/Aug 2007.
  12. ^ Lawrence H. Schiffman, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: How They Changed My Life," Biblical Archaeology Review, 33:04, Jul/Aug 2007.
  13. ^ Dead Sea Scrolls Expert Dr. Lawrence Schiffman Named Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation Ezrath Israel in Ellenville, NY
  14. ^ Biblical history nestled in neon buzz, The Christian Scientist Monitor, Nov. 16, 2011.
  15. ^ Edward Rothstein, "The Scrolls as a Start, Not an End,", New York Times, Oct. 28, 2011.

External links

  • Prof. Lawrence Schiffman website
  • Yeshiva University Office of the Provost
  • Journal Henoch website
  • Enoch Seminar website
  • Center for Online Judaic Studies
  • Professor Lawrence Schiffman video lectures
  • How to Study a Dead Sea Scrolls Text
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