Scholars attending a Dead Sea Scroll conference at the University of Eichstaett in Germany recently addressed a letter to the Israel Antiquities Authority calling for a renewed investigation of Qumran Cave 7, where several fragmentary Greek texts were uncovered in the 1950s. According to two scholars in attendance, some of these fragments may have been parts of New Testament texts, including the Gospel of Mark. Almost all other scholars dispute this conclusion. The fragment with the best case, 7Q5, contains only 19 letters, half of which are only partially preserved, and has only one complete word—“and” in Greek.
Nevertheless, the scholars, without endorsing the conclusion that any of the texts were Christian, called for a reinvestigation of the site, which they regarded as “urgent,” because “of the vigorous attempts of amateur diggers to start their own campaigns” and the desire to “forestall sensationalist claims.”
The scholars even offered to fund a survey of the area. Among the signers of the letter were James H. Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary and Bar-Gil Pixner of the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem.
The Israel Antiquities Authority replied, “We are planning, in the near future, to begin a large-scale excavation” of the area that will include a reexamination of Cave 7.