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Jeff Spence, B.Ed, M.A. M.Sc

About Jeff Spence

I am from Canada, originally, though I now live in the UK. When I was in my twenties, I took several courses at the Canadian Baptist Seminary in Canada. One of those courses was taught by Professor Peter Flint, the Canada Research Chair, official editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and president of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University, in British Columbia.

I enjoyed the course and did very well. Professor Flint invited me to lunch after the course. He shared with me that the University of Oxford had asked him to recommend students for study with them, with scholarships on offer, and he thought I was a candidate. He asked me if I would come to Trinity and study with them in preparation for further work at Oxford.

At the time I was unable to do so - lots of things going on in my life. Some years later though, while living in the Bahamas, nearing the end of my M.Sc., and contemplating my next academic step, I brought up that old opportunity and my wife encouraged me to get in touch with Professor Flint again, to see if he remembered me.

He did, and invited me to come to the university as soon as I could. I took him up on that and, a couple of weeks later, stepped into the lecture hall for the first day of my second masters degree.

It was hard work. Learning Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Syriac, gleaning information from German and French academic journals, and familiarizing myself with all of the available manuscripts of the Second Temple Period. The work paid off though, and a couple of years later I was accepted as a member of the University of Oxford in Post-Graduate studies. I became a member of Blackfriars Hall and studied in the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (OCHJS) - which owned stately Yarnton Manor, once owned by my distant relatives. I lived on the estate, engaged in university life, and achieved one of my lifelong dreams - to study where my literary heroes studied.

If I thought my studies at Trinity were difficult, I was about to get an eye-opening. It is difficult to explain the workload, but perhaps this will help. We studied more Hebrew in a single semester than Harvaard tackles in a year. Our archeology studies engaged with information literally being taken out of the ground as we learned. The instructors were each considered top world experts in their fields - one of them in two fields. In addition to the language study, essays, lectures, and specific readings each demanded, the weekly additional reading was 1200 pages a week. That is roughly equivalent to reading the Bible, or the Lord of the Rings, each week, in addition to the other studies.

Did I mention that we had a daughter born three days before I started?

But I would not have traded it. I worked with world-renowned experts, some of whom are my friends to this day. Peter has sadly passed away, Martin Abegg retired, Geza Vermesh passed away, and some I've lost track of, but these academics and explorers have left a mark on my life, and I thank them for it.

Maybe, in a small way, I can make a similar mark on your life too, by openign up the world of these fascinating documents... without demanding the 1200 pages a week!

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Interested in some fun reading set in the world of Dead Sea Scrolls intrigue?

Check out The Silver Scroll on Amazon!

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