Biblical Archaeology Review 20:1, January/February 1994
Dead Sea Scrolls Research Council: Fragments

Bits & Pieces

Dead Sea Scrolls Become Household Words

The Dead Sea Scrolls have become household words, no longer the exclusive property of scholars, or even of devotees like BAR readers. Now the scrolls are part of the vernacular.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported new studies in supermarkets that tracked shoppers’ carts in an effort to determine buying patterns. With “this kind of research in hand,” says the Journal, “marketers are beginning to unravel some of the mysteries of product location and purchase habits.” Then the article quotes Willard Bishop, a food-retailing consultant: “This is like the Dead Sea Scrolls of the grocery business.”

New York Times columnist William Safire recently took the United States Supreme Court to task for trying to suppress a book of transcripts of famous oral presentations before the high court. Here is how Safire made the point: “As the Dead Sea Scroll monopolists learned, unless a public document or tape or photo is a national secret or an invasion of privacy, it should be and will be available for dissemination in any way the market system decides.”

Apparently the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls is becoming a Supreme Court precedent. We only hope it does not follow the precedent of the Jerusalem court in the MMT case. If it does, we can put the scrolls back in the caves.

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