Biblical Archaeology Review 33:4, July/August 2007
The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls: How They Changed My Life

By Geza VermesLawrence H. Schiffman

The Quote Heard ’Round the World

It was 1948—I was studying theology and the Bible in Louvain (Belgium) at a college run by French-speaking Jesuits—when I first read in the press about a sensational Hebrew manuscript discovery dating to the end of the pre-Christian era. In those days one had to take everything about the scrolls with a pinch of salt. I remember, for example, that a leading Brussels daily once referred to the discovery of an 11th-century B.C.E. Biblical manuscript on the shore of the Black Sea! Having been indoctrinated by my professors in the light of a century of archaeological research in Palestine that no ancient text written on leather or papyrus could survive in the climate of the Holy Land, the Dead Sea Scrolls story seemed unbelievable and for some time many experts remained skeptical about it. The forged Deuteronomy manuscript with which the Jerusalem antiquities dealer William Shapira nearly fooled the specialists of the British Museum in 1883 was vividly recalled.a

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.