Meet President Pfann

The founder and President of the University of the Holy Land/Center for the Study of Early Christianity is Dr. Stephen J. Pfann. Under his leadership, UHL/CSEC has sought to provide the concerned graduate student and New Testament scholar with an environment in which he or she can effectively explore the origins of the Christian faith, particularly in its first generation and in the land of its birth.

President Pfann is known and respected for his scholarship in both academic and lay contexts. He brings a wide range of skills to the research interests of UHL/CSEC including a background in biology, linguistics, and Biblical studies. Within Israel, Dr. Pfann's expertise was expanded through archaeological training under the late Profs. Yigael Yadin and Yigal Shiloh. Equipped with a facility in Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and New Testament Greek, he brings a rich and diverse background to his lecture programs, field trips, and study tours.

Since 1992, President Pfann has significantly contributed to the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls as a member of the International Team of Editors. He also created the computerized database to the Dead Sea Scrolls which records the history of photography and location of all the manuscripts from the Judean Wilderness. In the spring of 1993, he published The Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche in collaboration with Professor Emanuel Tov, Editor-in-Chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. President Pfann was responsible for the selection and approval of the more than 6,000 images contained in this comprehensive edition, which enables the scholar-at-large and the interested amateur to gain access to the entire corpus of manuscripts. In addition, he is supervising the production of the first complete concordance to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which will be published in both printed and electronic formats.

As a Dead Sea Scroll editor, Dr. Pfann has published one of the manuscripts of the Book of Daniel from Qumran cave 4 and is responsible for the decipherment of more than fifty manuscripts written in the "cryptic" scripts found exclusively in the caves of Qumran. These documents contain esoteric teaching reserved for the higher priestly echelons of the Second Temple Period. The results of his research have been published in the series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (Oxford University Press). Drawing on his background in biology and other sciences he has pioneered the use of parchment hair follicles to reconstruct the Dead Sea Scrolls.

President Pfann has created an exhaustive map-oriented database of the finds and manuscripts from Qumran. He has been highly praised by his peers for having produced a revised English, annotated edition of the excavation notes of Kh. Qumran and Ein Feshkha by Pere R. de Vaux for publication in the series Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus.

As an archaeologist, Dr. Pfann was a member of the staff of the excavations of Beth Shean (with Yigael Yadin) and the City of David (with Yigal Shiloh). He is currently co-director of the excavations of the Nazareth Village Farm. He is also the director of research for the reconstruction of the living museum, Nazareth Village, which explores all facets of the social, religious, family and daily life of the first century Jewish town of Nazareth. He has appeared in Who's Who in Biblical Studies and Archaeology (Biblical Archaeology Society).

President Pfann received his M.A. in Bible from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Department of Ancient Semitic Languages (2001). His dissertation The Character of the Essene Movement in Light of the Manuscripts Written in Esoteric Script from Qumran was directed by Prof. Michael Stone. He and his wife Claire, residents of Jerusalem since 1982, have been married for thirty-five years and have three children.