Biblical Archaeology Review 11:1, January/February 1985

Queries & Comments

No Theological Reasons for Failing to Publish Dead Sea Scrolls; Syrian Authorities Commended

To the Editor:

I am disturbed by a statement made by Morton Smith in his article “The Case of the Gilded Staircase,” BAR 10:05. In the second paragraph of the article he states: “Scholars … have now withheld from the public Dead Sea Scroll materials assigned to them by an international committee more than 30 years ago.”

Could you tell me why these scholars continue to withhold publication of their assignments? I cannot avoid the suspicion that there may be religious or doctrinal reasons for their failure to do so. It has been known for a long time that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls changed the minds of many Bible scholars concerning the origins of Christianity and its striking similarities to the earlier Essene doctrines. Professor Yadin refers to the relationship of the Essene doctrines to early Christianity in his article in the same issue.

Could it be that the scholars are withholding publication of material which they know would further contradict long-held views concerning Christianity and its origins? How else can one explain what appears to be deliberate refusal to release important information?

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