For three days in May, a select group of invited scholars, all experts in the Dead Sea Scrolls, met at New York University to share ideas and discuss common problems.a
On a light note, New York University’s Lawrence Schiffman opened the sessions attended by nearly 50 academicians from around the world by announcing the rules for the scholarly discussions:
• Let no one answer his companion with obstinacy or address him impatiently, taking no account of the dignity of his fellow.
• Let no one deliberately insult his companion unjustly.
• Let no one speak foolishly.
• Let no one interrupt his companion while speaking.
• Let no one go to sleep during the assembly of the congregation. Let no one leave without reason.
• Let no one expectorate in the assembly.
• Let no one guffaw foolishly or reach out his left hand to gesticulate.
• Anyone who goes about slandering his companion shall be excluded from the pure food.
None of Schiffman’s audience needed to be told that the prohibitions Schiffman paraphrased in the style of Essene laws are contained in the sect’s ancient Manual of Discipline found nearly 40 years ago in Qumran Cave 1.
The ensuing discussions were more serious. They were often impassioned, but the rules were obeyed.