chronicle of higher ed asks what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

a new article by jennifer howard of the chronicle of higher education asks an important question: ‘what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls?’ in the article, howard examines the pros and cons of religiously-affiliated universities acquiring fragments of the dead sea scrolls for the sake of publicity.

But for some scholars, the purchases are more a cause for concern than for celebration. Will such acquisitions by academic institutions, even though they are made legally, help drive up the market for looted antiquities and rare artifacts? And is the boost to scholarship really worth the large sums of money those fragments cost?

she also makes note of my recent satirical blog post announcing the acquisition of some dss fragments by other previously unknown dead sea scrolls-centered institutions.

Some scholars feel queasy at the thought that universities will shell out that kind of money in these hard-pressed times, even for objects as symbolically and historically important as pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls. On his blog, Robert R. Cargill, a Biblical archaeologist, imagined “a race of archaeological one-upmanship,” in which institutions compete to scoop up high-profile objects in order to boost their academic reputations.

Mr. Cargill is the institutional technology coordinator of the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of California at Los Angeles, and the chief architect and designer of UCLA’s Qumran Visualization Project. “Universities are charged with educating people, not acquiring cool artifacts,” he said in an interview. “If someone gives a university something, OK. But universities should spend the bulk of their money on educating students and not on cheap public-relations ploys in an attempt to increase credibility overnight with the purchase of an antiquity.” Mr. Cargill also worries that high-profile acquisitions will encourage would-be looters to see what else they can dig up and put on the market.

jennifer did an excellent job with the article and it is certainly worth the read.

azusa pacific acquires dead sea scrolls fragments

A fragment of the biblical book of Nehemiah photographed in infra red with the unusual skills of Bruce and Ken Zuckerman and Marilyn Lundberg Melzian of West Semitic Research in Rolling Hills Estates, California for Lee Biondi of Los Angeles, CA

A fragment of the biblical book of Deuteronomy photographed in infra red with the 'unusual skills' of Bruce and Ken Zuckerman and Marilyn Lundberg Melzian of West Semitic Research in Rolling Hills Estates, California for Lee Biondi of Los Angeles, CA

azusa pacific university has acquired dead sea scroll fragments from biondi rare books of los angeles, california and legacy ministries international.

this announcement from the institute for judaism and christian origins shows one of the fragments that has been acquired by azusa pacific university. the research on the fragment is by james charlesworth of princeton theological seminary, and the hi-res infra red photographs are by bruce and ken zuckerman and marilyn lundberg melzian of the west semitic research project.

codicology:

width: circa 38 millimeters, four lines of text, black ink on brown leather, holes, especially a tear from above line three through line four, no margins, no horizontal or vertical lining visible; no writing on back. Though the SP has more sense divisions than the so-called MT, there is no division indicated before the beginning of verse six (end of line four).

date:

The fragment is too small to be cut for AMS C-14 analysis. While there are few consonants, one can judge the work to be mostly in a late Hasmonean Book Hand.

text:

Deuteronomy 27:4b-6

(4) “[And when you have cross]ed the Jo[r]dan, you shall set u[p these stones, about which I charge you] today, on Mount Gerizim, and coat [them with plaster. (5) And there, you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of st]ones. [You must] not wield upon them an iron (tool). (6) [Of unhewn] st[ones you must build the altar of the LORD] your [God], and you shall offer upon it burnt offerings to the LOR[D your God.]”

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