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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:2, Summer 2021

Epistles: Biblical Profile: The Birth of Noah

By Jaap Doedens

Biblical Archaeology Review

In the spring of 1947, the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Among them was a scroll from Qumran Cave 1 that came to be known as the Genesis Apocryphon.1

As 1947 was the year preceding the founding of the State of Israel, these days were neither the most peaceful nor the best suited for archaeological expeditions. Because of the political and military turmoil, four of the first-found scrolls were transported from Jerusalem to Lebanon and further to Syria, before eventually arriving in the United States.

Three of the scrolls could be unrolled rather easily. The fourth scroll, however, was not only very difficult to unroll, but just before scholars would launch this delicate procedure, the then-owner of the scroll, the Metropolitan of St. Mark’s Monastery in the Old City of Jerusalem, withdrew his permission to have it unrolled. His motivation was apparently more financial than scholarly, as he expected that the scroll’s monetary value would be greater in its unrolled state. Obviously, the Metropolitan’s deliberations are understandable in view of the dire circumstances of many of his parishioners at those times.

Only after these scrolls were purchased by the emerging State of Israel for the sum of 250,000 USD could this fourth scroll be opened.

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