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Three Prominent Figures Shaping Contemporary Understanding of Jerusalem and the Bible to Speak at Smith

Barry Moser, First Major Artist This Century to Illustrate Old and New Testaments, to Lead Off Series

When book designer Barry Moser's much-anticipated Pennyroyal Caxton Bible was released last week, the New York Times credited the edition -- the first full illustration of the Old and New testaments since 1865 -- with having "the power to startle" and proposed that Moser "may just have created the Bible for our time."

At 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 19, in Smith College's Wright Hall Auditorium, Moser will reflect on the challenges and pitfalls of affixing images to sacred text in a slide lecture titled "Tanakh and Testament: A Reprobate Tinkers With Holy Writ." Moser will discuss his use of life models, photographs and computer-generated composites to produce images of sanctity and monumentality that are also provocative and which cause readers to see old, familiar characters and stories in a new light.

A designer, author, printer, painter, and printmaker, Moser has illustrated or designed more than 200 books, including the Arion Press edition of "Moby Dick" and the University of California Press edition of "The Divine Comedy of Dante." Moser's edition of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" won the National Book Award for Design and Illustration in 1983.

The following week, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 26, Hershel Shanks, founding editor of the influential journal "Biblical Archaeology Review," and author, most recently, of "The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls," will present "What Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Really Say?" Shanks will speak in the Neilson Library Browsing Room and his lecture will be accompanied by slides.

Described as "perhaps the most visible, quotable, divisive figure in the world on...the Dead Sea Scrolls," Shanks is a self-made expert in the field of Biblical archaeology. He is also the publisher of "Bible Review"; editor of "Moment," a Jewish opinion magazine; and founder and president of the Biblical Archaeology Society, a non-profit publishing, travel and seminar organization. He is the author and editor of 12 books, including "The City of David: A Guide to Biblical Jerusalem," "Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls," and "Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography," described by The New York Times as "a sober, straightforward, politically neutral summary of the amazing history of Jerusalem as revealed by the archaeological findings of the last century and more."

The lecture series will conclude at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 18, with "Prophets, Fishes and Mermaids in the Book of Jonah," a slide-lecture by distinguished Biblical scholar Shemaryahu Talmon of Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Talmon will speak in Seelye Hall 201.

One of the first recipients of his country's prestigious Israel Prize in Biblical Research and Interpretation, Talmon is the author of numerous works of Biblical history and an authority on Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered beginning in 1947. His books include "Jewish Civilization in the Hellenistic-Roman Period," "Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text" and "The World of Qumran from Within." He is the editor of the Hebrew University Commentary Project. Talmon's lecture at Smith will focus on a scene from the Book of Jonah in a 13th-century illuminated Hebrew manuscript.

All of the lectures are free, open to the public, and wheelchair-accessible.

Moser, Shanks and Talmon are visiting Smith in conjunction with a first-year seminar titled "Jerusalem in History, Literature and Art," taught by professors Patricia Skarda and Karl Donfried. Sponsors of the lectures include the Mellon Foundation, the Smith College Museum of Art and the departments of Religion and Biblical Literature and Jewish Studies.

October 7, 1999


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