Biblical Archaeology Review 16:2, March/April 1990
Dead Sea Scrolls

Leading Dead Sea Scroll Scholar Denounces Delay

By Hershel Shanks

One of the world’s preeminent Dead Sea Scroll authorities, who at one time had full access to all the fragments, including those still unpublished, has roundly condemned the continuing delay in releasing the full texts.

Speaking at a colloquium honoring Sam Iwry of Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore Hebrew University, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Professor Emeritus at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., stated:

“Since 1960 there has been no excuse for the lack of publication. Publication understandably takes time, but they [the texts] should have been appearing at regular intervals. Yet this has not been the case.”

According to Fitzmyer, the principal reason for the delay is that the scholar-editors entrusted with publication want to write extensive commentaries on the texts before publishing them, so that theirs will be the last word on these important texts. In explaining the delay, Fitzmyer said:

“There is the scholarly desire to say the last word on the texts. This has been the main reason for the delay in publication. Yet we know that no one who pioneers in the publication of an ancient text ever says the last word on it.”

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