Biblical Archaeology Review 39:3, May/June 2013

ReViews: The Most Brilliant Scroll Scholar

Doyen of the Dead Sea Scrolls: An In-Depth Biography of Józef Tadeusz Milik (1922–2006) Qumranica Mogilansia 17

By Zdzislaw J. Kapera and Robert Feather (Kraków-Mogilany: Enigma Press, 2011) xii +239 pp., $90

Among Dead Sea Scroll scholars, Józef Tadeusz Milik is considered one of the greatest of the greats. A member of the eight-man team originally assigned to publish the more than 15,000 manuscript fragments from Qumran Cave 4, he was clearly a genius. His abilities and accomplishments were, in a word, simply stunning.

For those of us who were privileged to know him personally, he was, even more importantly, a spectacular human being, a gentle soul whose fame and memory are based and will always be based on solid accomplishment, not self-aggrandizement.

The closest I ever heard him come to admitting some kind of self-awareness of his genius was his answer to a question I posed in 2004 shortly before his death: “Who, next to you, was the best scholar on the Cave 4 Team?” His answer was only one word: “Skehan” (Monsignor Patrick S. Skehan). Milik obviously accepted the premise of my question, but he would never have proposed the premise himself.

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