Dead Sea Scrolls provide theme for Saint Martin’s Spiritual Life Institute

Program will celebrate 60th anniversary of scrolls’ discovery

May 29, 2008

Lacey, Washington — Saint Martin’s University invites the public to dialogue, engage and reflect on the legacy of the Dead Sea Scrolls during its 26th annual Spiritual Life Institute, slated for June 16–20 on Saint Martin’s main campus, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey, Washington, 98503. The institute is a weeklong program, presented every summer by local and visiting scholars, that addresses some topic of significance to modern spiritual life. This year’s institute, “The Dead Sea Scrolls at Sixty: Past, Present and Future Prospects,” marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the ancient manuscripts.

Institute participants have the option of registering for Continuing Education Credit (CEC 080) for $200 or non-credit attendance for $40 per day. The public is also invited to attend a free lecture on “The Authority of Scripture: The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 20, in the Norman Worthington Conference Center. The event will include a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session featuring several eminent scrolls scholars.

“The Spiritual Life Institute is an opportunity to expose Saint Martin’s students and members of the community to high-caliber scholars who may not be available locally,” said Ian Werrett, Ph.D., director of the Spiritual Life Institute and assistant professor of religious studies at Saint Martin’s University.

Among the faculty for this year’s Spiritual Life Institute are: Robert Kugler, Ph.D., the Paul S. Wright Professor of Christian Studies at Lewis and Clark College; Cecilia Wassen, Ph.D., whose book “Women in the Damascus Document” provides a fresh look at the roles of and attitudes toward women in the Dead Sea Scrolls; and Hanne von Weissenberg, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at the University of Helsinki who is currently researching the process of canon formation in light of the scrolls.

The theme of the 2008 institute is significant to Werrett, a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar who first developed an interest in the subject as a Saint Martin’s student. Werrett, who graduated from Saint Martin’s in 1996, returned to his alma mater two years ago as a faculty member. He recently published a book on ritual purity in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“The Dead Sea Scrolls have changed our understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition, our understanding of the Bible and its transmission,” Werrett explained. “The institute will help students and community members gain a far more nuanced understanding of the scrolls.”

“I believe in this program, and I’m thankful that Saint Martin’s has supported it for the past 26 years,” he continued. “It’s not just about exploring interesting ideas; it’s also about sharing our Benedictine hospitality with the community.”

For more details about Saint Martin’s Spiritual Life Institute program, including schedule and registration information, visit

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 320-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its five extension campuses located at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, Olympic College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For additional information:

Ian Werrett, Ph.D.
Director, Spiritual Life Institute
Saint Martin’s University

Jennifer G. Fellinger
Director of Communications
Saint Martin’s University