Emeritus Fellow Geza Vermes celebrates Dead Sea Scrolls golden jubilee

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Thursday 2 February

2 February 2012

Wolfson College was honoured to welcome Emeritus Fellow Geza Vermes and Penguin Books on 23rd January for the 50th Anniversary of the publication of his The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, which has sold an estimated half-a-million copies worldwide.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are of great religious and historical significance, as they include the oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-biblical documents, generally dated between 150 BCE and 70 CE.

The College Vicegerent, Denis Galligan, welcomed the guests to the golden jubilee event, where Professor Vermes recounted how the book first appeared as a slim 250-page volume among the Pelican Books, and, over the course of six further editions, was elevated to the Penguin Classics series, having grown into a 700-page tome, renamed The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:827:]]Simon Winder, Penguin's Publishing Director, described the significance of the occasion and proposed the toast, before Professor Vermes thanked the publishers, the University, Wolfson, his friends, colleagues and family. He announced that the online edition of the major Dead Sea Scrolls, prepared in September 2011 by the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem and Google, will soon be accompanied online by his English rendering.

All twenty or more incarnations of the book were on display in the Haldane Room, including the first edition with a Hebrew scroll printed upside down on the front cover and three luxury illustrated special editions, all of which were exhibited at the event, together with translations into Portuguese, Turkish and Japanese.

Professor Vermes's latest book, Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea, AD 30-325, will be  published in July.