Fulbright Scholar spends year studying in Germany

ORANGE CITY – Gabrielle Giffords was one. And author Joseph Heller. So were 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, 43 Nobel Prize winners and 78 Pulitzer Prize honorees.

Justin Pannkuk, a 2005 graduate of Webster City High School, is part of an impressive list of Fulbright Scholars and has spent the 201213 academic year at the University of Gttingen in Germany conducting research on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In addition to biblical texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls also contain extra-biblical documents written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Pannkuk, who reads those languages as well as Syriac and classical Ethiopic, hopes his study of texts not canonized in the Hebrew Bible will lead to new insights about early Judaism and the development of Christianity.

“I’m struck by the diversity and complexity of early Jewish literature and history,” he said. “The texts I’m studying present differing perspectives on important issues-such as origins of evil, sources of religious and theological authority, and beliefs about the Messiah and resurrection from the dead.”

A 2009 graduate of Northwestern College, Orange City, and 2012 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Pannkuk credits Northwestern religion professor Dr. James Mead, his undergraduate adviser and the author of a recommendation to the Fulbright Scholarship board, with playing a role in his successful application. “I’m proud of the education I’ve gotten from Northwestern,” he says, “and indebted for all the support I’ve received over the years.”

Pannkuk is the son of Stuart Pannkuk, Webster City, and Cathy Pannkuk, Ankeny.