Sunday, 26 May 2013

Bit of Dead Sea Scroll, Anyone?

For that collector that has almost everything: a small trophy bit of a Dead Sea scroll (Daniel Estrin, 'Fragments of biblical treasure are up for sale', Huffington Post 25.05.13):
Parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are up for sale - in tiny pieces. Nearly 70 years after the discovery of the world's oldest biblical manuscripts, the Palestinian family who originally sold them to scholars and institutions is now quietly marketing the leftovers - fragments the family says it has kept in a Swiss safe deposit box all these years. Most of these scraps are barely postage-stamp-sized, and some are blank. But in the last few years, evangelical Christian collectors and institutions in the U.S. have forked out millions of dollars for a chunk of this archaeological treasure.
The dealer who initially got his hands on the scrolls, Kando had some fragments in his possession. In the mid-1960s this secret collection of fragments was "transferred to Switzerland". Kando died in 1993, but his sons then began marketing these fragments, it was the perfect time to sell. Martin Schoyen bought over a hundred bits. Then they started to flog them off in the US. Asuza Pacific University, an evangelical Christian college near Los Angeles bought some, then the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Then the Green family, "evangelical Christians in Oklahoma City and owners of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts retailer, bought 12 fragments for its private collection, the world's largest of rare biblical manuscripts". The source of these is unknown.

A separate AP article gives some indication of where some of the other bits ended up: 'The Dead Sea Scrolls at a glance'. Now, what 'research' actually can anyone do with a scattered fragment  the size of a postage stamp from a much larger group of fragments of a scroll elsewhere , except to brag that you've got it? Nobody's going to understand anything of such a fragment without seeing it in the context of the text from which it came.

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