Biblical Archaeology Review 11:5, September/October 1985

BARview: Israeli Authorities Now Responsible for Delay in Publication of Dead Sea Scrolls

By Hershel Shanks

Biblical Archaeology Review

The international committee appointed under Jordanian auspices to supervise publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls is, in effect, non-functional (see BARview: Failure to Publish Dead Sea Scrolls Is Leitmotif of New York University Scroll Conference”). It ran out of money 25 years ago. It never meets as a body; its members communicate with one another by correspondence. It has no secretariat or office. It has no organizing or organizational rules. It has no explicit governing or decisional procedures. And it makes no decisions.

Historically, the committee’s principal act has been to assign publication rights and responsibilities to individual scholars. Having done that, it has, for all practical purposes, exhausted its writ. Power, control and responsibility thereafter fell on individual scholars—to publish or not, to decide where and when to publish, to reassign publication rights to students or others as they see fit, to will publication rights on death, and, within this context, to make any necessary committee decisions by consensus.

When the original chairman of the international committee, Père Roland de Vaux of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française, Jerusalem, died in 1971, the chairmanship naturally devolved on de Vaux’s successor as head of the École Biblique, Père Pierre Benoit. There was no formal election by a committee and there is no final term of office.

Because of lack of funds, committee members must even pay their own way to Jerusalem, coming when they can, to examine the original fragments in the Rockefeller Museum. Otherwise, they work from photographs.

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