Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Dirt on the Dubious Dead Sea Scrolls

Alex Macdonald, Researcher at Macquarie University (Oct 16 2017) summarises 'The Dirt on the Dubious Dead Sea Scrolls: curiosities to consider as more information emerges'.
everyone thought that all the manuscripts and fragments from Qumran had been excavated and sold; the dominant dealer (known as Kando) suggested that the days of buying and selling DSS material were past. Nonetheless, since 2002 when an American dealer was offered an opportunity to buy more DSS, we have seen some 76 fragments come through the market for huge prices — hundreds of thousands of dollars, up to tens of millions. They seem to have come largely via one of Kando’s sons. Many of these are now in the collection of Martin Schøyen, and others are owned by various American evangelical institutions including the SouthWestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the new almost-open Museum of the Bible backed by the Hobby Lobby family (the Greens). All these fragments were bought on the premise that they were authentic antiquities, and volumes publishing the Schøyen fragments and the Museum of the Bible fragments have been published this year — but some of those papyri have been proven to be fake! In numerous instances this is through papyrological/ palaeographical methods, but in some cases (i.e. six fragments from the Schøyen collection) scientific testing has been conducted and confirmed the verdict of the scholars. This raises all sorts of questions including questions about how documents with no legitimate provenance information came into such collections.
This is followed up by the author presenting 'a few things that I think are worth noting', and indeed they are. Including this one:

There’s another enigma, a group with a cluster of related entities: “Ancient Discovery Investment Group”, “The American Judeo-Christian Heritage Foundation”, the “Artifact Research and Translation Foundation.” They want to bring a “priceless” collection of Dead Sea Scrolls — that is, the rest of William Kando’s scrolls — to America and thus “prove that mankind once enjoyed a relationship with deity.” The price is upward of THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS! Despite the lack of overt reference to the fact, they seem to be a group of Mormons.
Vignette: Authenticity as doubtful as this 'Jesus toast'.

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