Biblical Archaeology Review 15:4, July/August 1989

Dead Sea Scrolls Scandal—Israel’s Department of Antiquities Joins Conspiracy to Keep Scrolls Secret

By Hershel Shanks

They will never do it. They will never do it because they cannot do it. They have failed—utterly and completely. The time for equivocation, explanation and apology has passed. It is now time to face the situation squarely and unflinchingly: The team of scholars assigned more than 30 years ago to publish the Dead Sea Scrolls will never publish them because they cannot! The task was simply too great.

The team of editors has now become more an obstacle to publication than a source of information.

And Israel’s Department of Antiquities and the Committee of Israeli scholars appointed to oversee Dead Sea Scroll publication has now joined the conspiracy of silence and obstruction.

While significant Dead Sea Scrolls were published during the first 25 years or so after their discovery (the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947), the principal accomplishment of the team of editors during the last 15 years has been successfully to prevent other scholars from studying the vast store of as-yet-unpublished scroll materials.

Over a decade ago, the distinguished Oxford don Geza Vermes called the failure to publish the Dead Sea Scrolls “the academic scandal par excellence of the twentieth century.”1

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