Despite the close historical links between Judaism and Christianity, few scholars cross the line to work in both Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. One notable exception is Geza Vermes, professor emeritus of Jewish studies at Oxford University and director of the Forum for Qumran Research at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies. Vermes specializes in the crucial centuries that gave birth to both Rabbinic Judaism and to Christianity. He is particularly known for his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Indeed, it is probably fair to say that more readers encounter the scrolls through his The Dead Sea Scrolls in English than through any other work. BR editor Hershel Shanks recently interviewed Professor Vermes.
Hershel Shanks: You’re the first Oxford Don I’ve ever interviewed. What is an Oxford Don? And why aren’t you called an Oxford Joe or an Oxford Sam or an Oxford Pete? Why an Oxford Don?
Geza Vermes: Don comes from the medieval abbreviation of dominus, which just means “Mr.”
HS: Not “Lord”?