Dead Sea Scroll scholar Hartmut Stegemann of the University of Göttingen, Germany, died on August 22, 2005, at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Part Sherlock Holmes, part crime scene investigator and part unassuming sleuth, Stegemann began studying the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1950s as an assistant at the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute (Qumran-forschungsstelle) at the University of Heidelberg, where he first tried to reassemble fragments and create scrolls as they might have been two thousand years ago. In the early 1960s, he successfully reconstructed the Thanksgiving Hymns scroll (1QH), which, because of his loyalty to the official editors, he never published under his own name. Only when Emile Puech published his own reconstruction of the same document in the late 1980s did Stegemann reveal the agreement between his and Puech’s final products.
For many years Professor Stegemann was known for his dissertation on the emergence of the Qumran community. After studying and working at the University of Heidelberg,he taught New Testament at the University of Marburg and the University of Göttingen, where he directed the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute.
For several years I rode with Professor Stegemann from Marburg, where we both lived, to Göttingen. Sometimes we talked about the Temple Scroll (11QT) or the Aramaic Enoch fragments (4QEnoch), which he was teaching at the time, or the famous (or infamous) Some of the Works of the Law (4QMMT), which every Qumran scholar wanted to study and write about. Occasionally we just listened to Harry Belafonte sing “Daylight come and me want to go home.”