Biblical Archaeology Review 15:6, November/December 1989

New Hope for the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

By Hershel Shanks

At long last, significant progress is being made to assure publication of the substantial batch of unpublished Dead Sea Scroll texts.a And we may soon learn just how substantial this batch is; finally, after more than three decades, a complete catalogue of the unpublished Dead Sea Scroll texts is being prepared.

Unfortunately, the good news is as difficult to ferret out as gross negligence. And publication team editors manage to sound defensive and even offensive while simultaneously taking major forward-looking steps.

For example: Time magazine managed to find and interview the scroll editor who, it is widely reported, controls the biggest and most important lot of still-unpublished texts—J. T. Milik, a Polish scholar and former Catholic priest who has lived in Paris for many years. Despite worldwide coverage by major international media concerning the unpublished texts, Time alone was able to get to Milik.1 It triumphantly referred to him as “elusive.” When Time finally tracked him down, this is what Milik said—“unrepentantly,” as Time characterized it: “The world will see the manuscripts when I have done the necessary work.”

Yet almost simultaneously the hitherto recalcitrant Milik was giving up publication rights to major unpublished texts and transferring them to senior American and Israeli scholars.

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