Nova on Scrolls
TV Program Probes Dead Sea Scroll Scandal
The science documentary series Nova plans to expose the Dead Sea Scroll controversy this fall on public television. More than 40 years after the astonishing discovery of these ancient manuscripts, Nova will examine the laborious, ongoing process of compiling and translating the fragmentary texts and of interpreting their religious relevance. The 60-minute program, featuring interviews with BAR editor Hershel Shanks and former chief scroll editor John Strugnell, will investigate the secrecy of the small team of scholars who have kept tight control over the unpublished scrolls. “Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls” will air on Tuesday, October 15 at 8 p.m. (EST) on PBS (check local listings).
BAR Editor Will Moderate Smithsonian Seminar
Several internationally renowned scholars will gather in Washington, D.C., on October 26, 1991, to deliver lectures on “The Rise of Ancient Israel,” sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution’s Resident Associate Program in cooperation with the Biblical Archaeology Society. BAR editor Hershel Shanks will moderate the seminar and present its opening lecture, “Defining the Problems.” He will be followed by Baruch Halpern on “The Exodus from Egypt—Myth or Reality,” William G. Dever on “How to Tell a Canaanite from an Israelite” and P. Kyle McCarter on “The Origins of Israelite Religion.”
Halpern, author of The First Historians (Harper & Row, 1988), is professor of humanities and religion at York University in Toronto. Dever, one of America’s leading Biblical archaeologists, is professor of Near Eastern archaeology at the University of Arizona and a co-editor of the forthcoming Anchor Bible Dictionary and the Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Biblical World. He is the author of
Search for Scrolls Resumes
The Judean Desert Exploration/Excavation Project, postponed because of the Persian Gulf War, will resume for its third season from December 27, 1991, through January 20, 1992.
Volunteers and archaeologists will explore caves in the limestone cliffs of the Judean desert—which once sheltered Jewish revolutionaries, Christian ascetics and the Dead Sea Scrolls—in the hope of finding new scrolls and artifacts. Robert Eisenman, working with Jerusalem archaeologist Dan Bahat, plans to extend the survey down to Ein Gedi and inland into the Kidron Valley.
Volunteers will be enrolled in a three-unit extension course credited by California State University at Long Beach. The course will provide instruction in methods of cave and desert exploration, scroll research, Second Temple-period history and Christian origins. The $2,350 cost for volunteers includes transportation, tuition and room and board at Kibbutz Kalla, next to the Qumran caves. Applicants should be capable of the physical exertion required for cave exploration and excavation.
Contact: Secretary, Department of Religious Studies, California State University at Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840; phone (213) 985–5341 or (714) 962–0548; fax (714) 962–0268.
Call for Donations
Museum Seeks Funds for Memorial Lecture Series
The Harvard Semitic Museum hopes to establish an endowment for an annual Yigal Shiloh Memorial Lecture. Professor Yigal Shiloh (1937–1987), of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, spent several sabbatical years working at the Harvard Semitic Museum. Archaeological volunteers at the City of David will remember Yigal’s devotion as director of excavations from 1978 to 1985. BAR readers will be familiar with his scholarly contributions to this magazine. Yigal’s memory as a friend, and the enthusiastic reaction of teachers and students alike, inspire the museum directors to pursue their 075goal despite financial difficulties. Your tax-deductible contributions to the lecture fund would be greatly appreciated by the Harvard Semitic Museum, 6 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138.
David’s City and Freud
The City of David exhibit, which reconstructs the history of King David’s capital from 3000 B.C. to 70 A.D., will be on view from November 4, 1991, to January 3, 1992, at the Harvard Semitic Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Admission is $3; senior citizens and students, $1. A full description of this exhibit was listed in BAR’s Museum Guide, BAR 17:02. For more information, call (617) 495–3123.
The Sigmund Freud Antiquities exhibit will be on view from September 7 to October 20 in the Blaffer Art Gallery at the University of Houston. This exhibit features items from Freud’s private collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Asian antiquities, books from his personal library, manuscripts and photographs. It demonstrates how Freud’s views on the history of civilization and the development of the human psyche were deeply rooted in his archaeological knowledge. Admission is free. A complete description of this exhibit may be found Museum Guide, BAR 15:05. For more information, call (713) 749–1329.
Unfair Pressure on Younger Dead Sea Scroll Scholars to Publish
A number of younger scholars who have been assigned Dead Sea Scroll texts to edit are complaining because of the pressure to publish—pressure from the worldwide outcry at the previous generation’s sloth.
This pressure on younger scholars is as unfair and unfortunate as it is unnecessary.
The fragmentary texts these younger scholars are working on are often brain-crunching in their difficulty and obscure in meaning. Proper scholarship takes time. These texts are important—so important that we want the very best work that these younger scholars are capable of. They should not be pressured to produce with undue haste.
But there is a simple answer. Don’t keep the texts secret. Let anyone see them. What harm would be done if photographs of these texts were made available to everyone? When the young scholars assigned to edit the texts do come out with their editions, those editions will obviously be the best thing available and will easily surpass anything that might come out earlier.
Making photographs of the texts available to everyone would relieve all the unfair pressure on these younger scholars to publish too quickly. And making the photographs available to everyone has no disadvantages: No one, including the younger scholars with newly assigned texts, would be harmed by releasing the photographs, a simple step that should be taken now.—Ed.
Nova on Scrolls