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The Grande Dame of Dead Sea Scroll Decoding

James Ossuary (Photo: wikipedia/Paradiso)

The Holy Land is a land of biblical history, so it is no wonder than Israeli scholars are some of the best in the world when it comes to the subject. And the world just lost one of the best earlier this summer, The Times of Israel's Amanda Borschel-Dan writes, when Ada Yardeni, a leading expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient biblical texts, passed away at the age of 81 from pancreatic cancer:

The woman who intimately knew the scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls, foremost paleographer Dr. Ada Yardeni, died in Jerusalem on June 29, 2018, following a brief battle against pancreatic cancer.

“Dr. Ada Yardeni was one of the greatest researchers in Semitic paleography and epigraphy, and her decipherment and illumination of the Dead Sea scrolls (as well as of many other texts) are fundamental and enduring,” wrote Hebrew University Bible and Talmud Prof. Menahem Kister in announcing Yardeni’s death to faculty this week.

Widowed young, Yardeni is survived by two daughters and an impressively vast corpus of popular and academic work. Yardeni has author credit for 59 articles and nine books, and calligraphed several children’s books in the 1960s. Among her numerous publications, the best known is 1991’s “The Book of Hebrew Script,” a definitive introduction to the origin and evolution of the Hebrew Script...

Trained at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, early in her career she worked as a graphic designer. This foundation in the arts paved the way for her later scholarly work as a paleographer of ancient Semitic scripts. She deciphered some of the most important ancient primary sources found in Israel. Among her most well-known texts are the Ketef Hinnom Priestly Benediction (the earliest material evidence for any part of the Hebrew Bible), as well as extensive work on the Dead Sea Scrolls...

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