The Dead Sea Scrolls will be the focus of this year's Danforth Lecture at Hope College.

The Dead Sea Scrolls will be the focus of this year's Danforth Lecture at Hope College.

Dr. Gabriele Boccaccini of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan will present "Leaders or Outcasts: Did the Essenes Do the Dead Sea Scrolls?" on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 3:30 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The scrolls were discovered in 1947 near Qumran. They include some of the earliest surviving examples from the Hebrew Bible.

Boccaccini is Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Literature at the University of Michigan. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and monographs, including "Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism" (1998) and "Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel" (2001), both published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Boccaccini has been with the University of Michigan since 1992. In 1994, he held the Louis and Helen Padnos Visiting Professorship of Judaic Studies with the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the university.

He was a professor of religion at the Lyceum of International Languages in Florence, Italy, from 1983 to 1987, and a researcher and lecturer in New Testament and Judaic studies at the University of Turin from 1987 to 1992. He has also held visiting appointments at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey; the Waldensian Faculty of Theology in Rome, Italy; and Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit.

Boccaccini was born in Italy, and holds his doctorate in Judaic studies from the University of Turin. In 1992 he was the winner of the "Borsa di Studio Post- Dottorato" (The Post-Doctoral Grant) at the University of Turin, and in 1987 he was the best of the three annual winners of the National Italian Contest for the "Dottorato di Recerca in Ebraistica" (The Italian Doctoral Grant in Judaic Studies).

The Danforth Lecture is sponsored by the Hope College department of religion with support from an endowment established by the Danforth Foundation of St. Louis, Mo. The program was established by the foundation "to deepen and enlarge the religious dimension of the campus family through speakers whom can reflect on the broad, interdenominational and yet positive sense of the Judaeo- Christian perspectives of life and existence."

Some of the many distinguished scholars who have visited the campus through the program in the past include Dr. Stanley M. Hauerwas of the Divinity School at Duke University; Dr. Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School; Dr. Phyllis Trible of Union Theological Seminary; and Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff of Yale Divinity School.

The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.