In this interview with MRB’s editor-in-chief Timothy Michael Law, Charlotte Hempel discusses how she began her career of study in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where the current challenges and prospects in the field lie, the new interdisciplinarity in Scrolls research, what we know and don’t know about the community at Qumran, her current research project on the diversity of literatures in the Second Temple period, and more.
She began her doctoral work at King’s College, London in 1991 when the world of scholarship at large gained access to all the unpublished material on the Scrolls for the first time. Because of the sheer scale of new material now available, the opening of access to all the unpublished texts had, in practical terms, a huge impact on scholarship, comparable almost to the impact of the initial discoveries. She has since published extensively on the Damascus Document, the Community Rule, 4QMMT, and other Qumran texts. She is currently exploring the ways in which the socio-religious milieu that gave us the Scrolls shares much more with the social matrix that gave us the emerging Hebrew Bible than customarily supposed. She is now at work on a project funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship entitled: The Development of Complex Literary Traditions in the Second Temple Period.
She is also Executive Editor of Dead Sea Discoveries, co-chair of the Qumran Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, member of the International Advisory Board of the Theological Dictionary of the Qumran Texts, the committee of the Society for Old Testament Study, the Advisory Board of Henoch.