The Buried Book: The Surprising Impact of the Folded, Spindled, and Mutilated

A panel discussion presented by the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota

Thursday, April 5th, 10:00 am – 3:30 pm, Maroon & Gold Room in the McNamara Alumni Center, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus

How was the discovery of buried books surprised the experts and altered our views of key aspects of our classical and biblical heritage? On Thursday April 5, scholars working on reading and writing in the ancient world from a variety of perspectives will gather at the University of Minnesota to discuss the lasting impact of modern discoveries of literature once buried on purpose or by natural disaster on our modern understanding of Greek literature, the Bible, ancient philosophy, and the role of readers in the Roman World.

Our panel discussion will feature both local and visiting scholars. Alex Jassen, an expert in Judaism in the Second Temple period, will discuss how the discoveries at Qumran upended our understanding of Jewish Scriptures in his talk The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Bible and Its Reception. Marco Perale, a specialist in Greek poetry as illuminated by modern manuscript deliveries, will discuss Greek Literature without the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Dirk Obbink, a renowned expert in Hellenistic verse and philosophy, and Director of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri project at Oxford University, will address the Villa of the Papyri found at Heculaneum, with its book rolls carbonized by the eruption of Mr. Vesuvius, in his talk The Herculaneum Library: From Literature to Archive.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Philip Sellew, a New Testament scholar with expertise in Greek and Coptic literary and historical studies. Ample time is planned for dialogue among the speakers as well as questions and comments from the audience. All interested parties are welcome – students from the U or other colleges, faculty colleagues, or members of the general public. There is no charge for attendance.



The symposium will have both morning and afternoon sessions with a break for lunch. Participants are welcome to attend either or both halves of the conference as their schedules permit. There are a variety of restaurants and cafés nearby for lunch.

10 am – Welcome

10:15 – Introduction by Philip Sellew (Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota)

11:00The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Bible and Its Reception, presented by Alex Jassen (Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota)

11:45-12:45 – Lunch Break

1:00Greek Literature without the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, presented by Marco Perale (Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota)

1:45The Herculaneum Library: From Literature to Archive, presentation by Dirk Obbink (Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford)

2:30-3:30 – General Discussion


For schedule details and more information, please check our department website at or telephone 612-625-5353.

We hope to see you there!


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