Biblical Archaeology Review 16:4, July/August 1990
Dead Sea Scrolls Update

Scroll Editors Spurn $100,000 Offer to Publish Book of Photographs of Still-Secret Texts

The Dead Sea Scroll editors, who control access to nearly 400 unpublished texts found over 35 years ago in the wilderness of Judea, have spurned a $100,000 offer to publish a book of photographs of the secret manuscripts.

The offer was made by a prominent multimillion-dollar American foundation. The foundation also expressed its willingness to consider supporting research on the texts once the photographs are made available to all scholars who wish to study them.

The offer was transmitted by BAR on April 2, 1990, to chief scroll editor John Strugnell, as well as to scroll editors J. T. Milik, Frank M. Cross and Emile Puech. None even bothered to reply. Milik, in a telephone interview from Paris, rejected the idea of publishing the photographs. Milik controls access to the lion’s share of the unpublished texts.

Several sets of photographs of the unpublished texts exist. For security purposes, a set has been deposited with the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center, in Claremont, California. An incomplete set has also been deposited with Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, Israel’s Department of Antiquities (now the Antiquities Authority) has placed restrictions on access to these photographs. Even scholars at the institutions where the photographs are deposited are forbidden to see them.

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