Queries & Comments
Yurco’s Article Should Suffice (But It Doesn’t)
Thank you for the insightful article on the racial makeup of the ancient Egyptians (Frank J. Yurco, “Were the Ancient Egyptians Black or White?” BAR 15:05). Those with their own bones (no pun intended) to pick will hardly be satisfied, but Frank J. Yurco’s scholarship should suffice for the reasonable and the prudent.
While writing on race, how about something on Moses’ Cushite (Ethiopian) wife (Numbers 12:1). Was she black or Semitic? At least the commentators give a positive value to blackness here. According to Rashi (1040–1105 C.E.), Moses’ wife was called Ethiopian because of her beauty. Similarly, Philo (first century C.E.) declared, “the Ethiopian woman stands for resolve unalterable, intense, and fixed. … For, even as in the eye the part that sees is black, so the soul’s power of vision has the title of woman of Ethiopia” (“Allegorical Interpretations of Genesis,” Philo, vol. 1, p. 267, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard Univ. Press).
Memra Institute for Biblical Research
Taking the Gloves Off
The adamant ignorance of some readers (Queries & Comments, BAR 15:04, and Queries & Comments, BAR 15:05) who responded to Ms. Joan Wilson’s letter (Queries & Comments, BAR 15:03) suggests that Ms. Wilson is not alone in her confusion. To completely confound matters, Mr. Yurco (“Were the Ancient Egyptians Black or White?” BAR 15:05) offers photographs of three royal “white” mummies, and a few non-white “foreigners” of assorted shades. This, we are off-handedly encouraged to believe, resolves the question.
What Ms. Wilson is really objecting to in her letter, albeit in an awkward manner, is the promotion of Nefertiti as the typical and quintessential “Egyptian.” Ms. Wilson is quite justified in her complaint. An equally well preserved bust of Queen Tiye rarely sees the light of day because of its markedly African countenance.
Eurocentrist scholars have long employed the analytical device exhibited in Mr. Yurco’s article, a biased assortment of physical and historical evidence joined with an ahistorical interpretation. The object is to prove a half-truth, while refuting the whole truth.
Two key elements are essential to this warmed-over 19th-century argument. First, the author must be careful not to define the term “Egyptian” in any coherent historical context. In Mr. Yurco’s article, repeated mention of Kushite and Nubian invaders implies that some aboriginal non-African people inhabited the land of the “Egyptians” before the appearance of phenotypic black Africans. This allows Mr. Yurco to establish, virtually, an eternal “Caucasian” presence throughout the Nile Valley, without confronting scientific evidence to the contrary.
Second, Mr. Yurco is obliged to choose exclusively his evidence, and then to avoid a chronologically or geographically precise treatment of such evidence. The problem of course is that a complete survey of pharaonic mummies, and a geo-historical interpretation of those “Nubian invasions,” reveals quite another picture of Keme [ancient Egypt—Ed.]. Yes, the “Egyptians” were a people of multiple origins. History, however, advances in but one direction.
Ms. Wilson’s letter was a sorry pretext for the publication of this article. The question “What was the hue of the ancient Egyptian?” has no significance. What we all honestly intend to ask is “What was the hue of those who founded the civilization?” It becomes clear, beyond our pretenses, how little it matters that Nefertiti, or this or that mummy, has straight hair, light skin and thin lips. Other mummies, other busts and a more complete history are now being seen and heard. The people who invented the calendar and agriculture, established science and social organization integral to civilization—these were all black African peoples. Narmer was black and African. Imhotep was black and African; Hatshepsut, Zoser, Khufu, Menkaura, the pyramid builders, the temple builders—these were all “Nubian invaders.”
The proof is nearly complete. What needs to be done now, Eurocentrists and the Cairo Museum forbid. Mr. Yurco’s cursory mention of Dr. Diop and the melanin dosage test belies the significance of his work, and avoids his conclusions. Professor Diop proposed we put aside our scholarly, and sometimes not so scholarly, papers and move on to scientific examination of what history has left us. Surely, Mr. Yurco, you know that British and Egyptian officials prevented Dr. Diop from performing systematic and controlled melanin dosage tests on more than a few inconsequential mummies. Shortly after he developed the melanin dosage test, nearly all the mummies on exhibition at the Cairo Museum vanished. Cheikh Anta Diop left us the analytical framework to understand the long ethnic evolution of Kemitic civilization. Unto this day you Eurocentrists refuse to do what was to have been done at the 1974 Cairo symposium, scientifically establish the ethnic history of the peoples of ancient Egypt.
Someday we will all be prepared to share history as a human legacy. Then letters like Ms. Wilson’s and the sad responses to it will also become things of the past.
Mt. Rainier, Maryland
Frank Yurco replies:
It is obvious that Glenn White came to my article with an already closed mind. I stated that the Egyptians were Africans, of the Afro-Asiatic ethnic grouping. I fail to see how this puts me in the camp with 19th-century scholars who tried to make the Egyptians the product of a foreign invasion in the late pre-Dynastic period. I reject that analysis completely. Rather, I follow basically the views I expressed in the article, that the peoples of the Nile Valley present a continuum, from the lighter northern Egyptians to the browner Upper Egyptians to the still browner Nubians and Kushites and to the ultra-dark brown Nilotic peoples.a This is the viewpoint held by a goodly number of present-day Egyptologists, and that distinguishes them sharply from the Eurocentrists that Mr. White has brought up.
If I had had more space, I would gladly have pointed out that the pharaonic Egyptians were directly descended from the pre-Dynastic peoples of the Upper Egyptian valley and the Delta. Those pre-Dynastic Egyptians formed a single culture, ranging from about modern Fayum up to near the second cataract (near Abu Simbel). The pharaonic centers appeared late in the pre-Dynastic period, the earliest at Qustul-Ballana near Abu Simbel (as Dr. Bruce Williams has shown in his work). The Upper Egyptians eventually unified the country (c. 3150 B.C.) and the political state of Egypt was born. Henceforth, the Egyptians distinguished themselves from their neighbors. So, after the unification, it is not only fair but absolutely correct to speak of those outside Egypt as foreigners.
As I took pains to point out in my article, throughout their history, the people of Egypt continued to have relations with and intermix with their neighbors, especially the Nubians and Kushites to the south and the Libyans to the west. After 3150 B.C., Egyptian history demands that you call these outlying peoples by the ethnic names that the Egyptian documents gave them.
Mr. White comes very close to slander when he claims that I established, “virtually, an eternal ‘Caucasian’ presence throughout the Nile Valley.” As stated above, in quotations from the beginning and the end of my article, I view the Egyptians as Africans, of the Afro-Asiatic group of northern Africa. So blinded is Mr. White by his own fixed views that he completely disregarded these parts of the article and accused me of establishing something not even mentioned in the article.
In his bald assertion that “Narmer was black and African. Imhotep was black and African; Hatshepsut, Zoser, Khufu, Menkaura, the pyramid builders, the temple builders—these were all Nubian invaders,” it is Mr. White who rides roughshod over historical evidence. Sure they were all Africans, but every one of them was an Egyptian. In skin color, they were beyond doubt some shade of brown, depending on where in Egypt they came from. Just what does Mr. White mean by his use of “black”?
As for the supposedly ignored bust of Queen Tiye, I think Mr. White refers to the uninscribed ebony wood head in the Staatliche Museum, Berlin (although he gives no citation). Contrary to Mr. White’s assertion, it is published quite frequently. Had he bothered to read my article completely, Mr. White would have found the identity of the mummy fully discussed, with citations to literature.
I am not privy to whether, as Mr. White asserts, the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum officials denied Dr. Diop permission to perform his melanin dosage test “on more than a few inconsequential mummies” (I don’t consider any mummy inconsequential!). As for the Cairo collection of mummies being withdrawn from view to the public, I understand that it was a political-sensitivity question, the Egyptians balking at the indiscriminate gawking at their ancient royalty. From what I have heard, though, the authorities have allowed scholars pursuing research access to the royal mummies. I question the importance of the melanin dosage test because, face it, we all have some percentage of melanin. Egyptians, coming in a variety of shades of brown, clearly have and had varying amounts of melanin. The Upper Egyptians being quite brown, I should expect, have goodly amounts of melanin. The test proves nothing new to me; the modern Egyptians come in varying shades of brown, and so did the ancients. I don’t need to be told that the ancient Egyptians were Africans; that is patently clear. But, I don’t believe in indiscriminately taking a charged and misused word like “black” from our culture and willy-nilly attaching it to another culture.
Are Americans Black or White?
To ask “Were the Ancient Egyptians Black or White?” is like asking if Americans are black or white.
Clarence O. Howard
“Hybrid Vigor” in Ancient Egyptians
I have followed the recent BAR controversy regarding the racial composition of the ancient Egyptians with great interest. I have studied this and similar problems in ancient racial migrations for over 20 years.
The Egyptian population, in both ancient and modern times, is concentrated overwhelmingly along the fertile banks of the Nile River. The Nile, at over 4,000 miles long, is the world’s longest river and stretches well into the heartland of black Africa. The Nile has, throughout history, served as a natural corridor of migration of black Africans from Nubia and Cush; that is, from the areas of modern Sudan and Ethiopia. This process has almost surely occurred for many thousands of years on a steady basis For example, excavations of the Badari area, which is located about halfway between modern Cairo and the Aswan dam, have revealed an advanced agricultural population with a negroid strain at about 5000 B.C.1 And as Professor Frank Yurco noted in his well-documented and carefully researched article “Were the Ancient Egyptians Black or White?” BAR 15:05, depictions of ancient Egyptians in funerary portraits, sculpture, reliefs, etc., clearly indicate a significant black African ethnic presence.
In order to test the hypothesis of black gene flow into Egypt, I have calculated the relative percentage of black African genes among modern Egyptians based on Rh blood group frequencies. My estimate is that approximately 39 percent of the genetic composition of the modern Egyptian population is of black African origin.2 I have no reason to believe that the situation was any different in ancient times, although a definitive answer to the exact racial composition of ancient Egypt will have to await DNA hybridization studies of mummified remains, which is surely years away.
I believe that the presence of a large black influence among the ancient Egyptians promoted what modern geneticists refer to as “hybrid vigor” in developing one of the most brilliant cultures of the ancient world. Furthermore, this fact of black/white mixture in creating a civilization that endured for thousands of years and that continues to inspire the modern world, reinforces the belief, taught by all major religions, that we are spiritually all brothers and sisters of each other.
By the way, I myself am white, of 100 percent British ancestry and have no ax to grind one way or the other. Please keep up the good work in your excellent magazine.
James G. Hamilton, M.D.
Durham, North Carolina
The volume of letters regarding the racial characteristics of the ancient Egyptians has been so great and so detailed that we have been able to include only a fraction of them in this issue. We will continue the discussion with additional letters in the next issue.—Ed.
Did Jesus Have Aryan Features?
I found some irony in your BAR 15:03 issue:
First, you print a deluge of “righteous rebuttals” to Mrs. Joan P. Wilson’s letter (Queries & Comments, BAR 15:03) for daring to state that Nefertiti was black instead of white. On the very next page is a two-page ad for a Madonna and child statue—which clearly portrays blond Aryan, as opposed to Semitic, features.
Here we go again.
Adding His Voice
I must confess to outrage at the clearly evidenced arrogance of the “scholars” into whose hands the Dead Sea Scrolls have been entrusted. The world and the community of scholars and institutions to whom the inestimable value of these records would have been otherwise available have every right to scream bloody murder.
The arrogant indifference of Amir Drori to the scandalous mismanagement as well as the absurdity of the proposed new “timetable” is intolerable.
Please provide me with some specific mailing addresses for Drori and any other others to whom reasonable expressions of indignation can be directed. I want to add my voice.
R. Forrest Allred, M.D.
General Amir Drori is director of the Department of Antiquities. His address is: Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Professor John Strugnell is chief editor of the scrolls. His address is: Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, 6 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138.—Ed.
Why the Worldwide Coverage Now?
I would like to point out that your valid and worthy campaign urging more rapid publication of the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls received “worldwide attention” only after you implicated Israel’s Department of Antiquities in the BAR 15:04 edition (“Dead Sea Scrolls Scandal—Israel’s Department of Antiquities Joins Conspiracy to Keep Scrolls Secret,” BAR 15:04). Your four-year crusade was no less important prior to that article. I wonder to what extent “Israel bashing” was a factor in this sudden “worldwide attention.” If pure scholarship was uppermost in the minds of the editors of the newspapers you cited (as I am sure it was in yours), they should have joined the fray much earlier.
Institute of Archaeology
I do not think the “worldwide attention” you refer to resulted from the fact that BAR charged Israel’s Department of Antiquities with some responsibility for the publication delay. Nor do I think “Israel bashing” was a factor in the sudden worldwide attention. My evidence is that among the hundreds of articles that appeared, not a single one played this angle.
Why then, you will ask, the sudden worldwide attention, after BAR’s four-year campaign for more rapid publication?
Three factors, I believe, are involved. First, BAR unquestionably raised the decibel level. For four years, we had been gently prodding. We appreciated the difficulties facing the scholars assigned publication rights; we respected them as great scholars; we liked them as human beings. We hoped gentle prodding would be enough.
Finally, we felt deceived by the Department of Antiquities, which then proceeded to stonewall us. After having told us there would be a “timetable,” the Department of Antiquities finally gave us an unsigned “Suggested Timetable.” When we asked the Department of Antiquities who “suggested” the timetable, who agreed to it and what would happen if the deadlines weren’t met, we were told that we would be given no answers whatever to our questions, that not a further word of explanation would be forthcoming. At the same time, chief scroll editor John Strugnell was telling people that the timetable represented only an “intelligent guess.” His hope, he was saying, was that the whole work would be finished by the year 2000—this while the suggested timetable said 1996. (On “Good Morning, America,” Strugnell said he hoped to have the work completed in “10 to 15 years”; that would take it to 2004.)
In those circumstances, BAR exploded—with the article you refer to.
The result was not only that the decibel level was raised, but there was a new hook: A timetable had finally been issued that was attacked by BAR. That was the second factor that resulted in the worldwide attention.
The third factor was that the story was picked up by the New York Times, which followed with a Sunday (the most widely read issue) editorial entitled “The Vanity of Scholars” that condemned the tardy scholars. Then the Associated Press wrote a lengthy story—and the worldwide attention was in full swing. Time magazine devoted over a page to the story. ABC interviewed the principals involved in the dispute on “Good Morning, America.” Sunday supplements began considering full-length stories on the scrolls.
In short, most of the media were followers, riding a wave that had already been initiated. Consider, for example, the Jerusalem Post, which should have had the most intense interest in the story of any newspaper in the world. It initially ran nothing. Only after the New York Times story appeared did the Jerusalem Post run an article by reporter Dan Izenberg. The Jerusalem Post’s lead concerned not BAR’s story but the New York Times story. (Izenberg focused on a charge made not in the BAR story but at the very end of the New York Times article, namely that publication was being suppressed for fear the contents of the texts would undermine religious beliefs. BAR has consistently tried to scotch these unfounded rumors—including m the issue that raised the storm. See “Why Are the Dead Sea Scrolls Being Suppressed?” Queries & Comments, BAR 15:04; see also “No Theological Reasons for Failing to Publish Dead Sea Scrolls,” Queries & Comments, BAR 11:01; and “Are the Dead Sea Scrolls Being Suppressed for Doctrinal Reasons?” Queries & Comments, BAR 15:06. In fact, the scholar accused of charging suppression for doctrinal reasons, Robert Eisenman, denies making the charge the Jerusalem Post wrote about; Eisenman claims the New York Times paraphrased him incorrectly. The Jerusalem Post reporter, however, failed to interview Eisenman before printing his story, relying instead on the New York Times article and then obtaining a refutation from an Israeli scholar, which became his lead. When Eisenman wrote the Jerusalem Post to correct the matter, the Post failed to print his letter.)
Only after the worldwide attention did the Jerusalem Post do a comprehensive, well-balanced, in-depth article—by veteran journalist Haim Shapiro—in its weekend edition (Sept. 29, 1989).
Of all the articles on the subject, only this comprehensive Jerusalem Post article intelligently probed the role played by Israel’s Department of Antiquities. Shapiro insightfully noticed that the Department spokesperson sees “herself largely as the defender and protector of the scholars who are working on the scrolls. She is hesitant to do anything that would upset them in any way.”
Instead of prodding the tardy scholars, pressing them to let all scholars see the scrolls, the Department of Antiquities has taken a backseat, refusing even to answer questions. 018Listen to Magen Broshi, curator of the Shrine of the Book and a member of the scroll oversight committee, speaking on “Good Morning, America” “There’s no urgency; we’re not dealing with cancer.”
Finally, as evidence that accusing Israeli authorities of responsibility for the publication delay would not by itself attract worldwide attention, in 1985 BAR published an article entitled,
“BARview: Israeli Authorities Now Responsible for Delay in Publication of Dead Sea Scrolls,”BAR 11:06. Nobody paid any attention.
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to yell to get attention.—Ed.
Père de Vaux Was a Dead Sea Scroll Hero
Your depiction of Père de Vaux’s role in the assembly of the international team to edit Cave 4 fragments is misleading where it is not plainly false. You write that de Vaux “was given the privilege of assembling the scroll publication team. Father de Vaux divided the documents among a small coterie mostly of his closest colleagues … ” (“What Should Be Done About the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls?” BAR 15:05). In fact, de Vaux did not select members of the team, did not divide the documents and most of us were neither close nor his colleagues unless you reckon anyone in the field of Semitic languages a colleague, and anyone on planet earth close. In fact the majority of us had never met de Vaux nor communicated with him prior to our nomination to the team. Let me sketch briefly the early history of the team as I remember it.
First, a word about the Rockefeller Museum, formerly the Palestine Archaeological Museum, which acquired the Cave 4 materials. In 1953, the Rockefeller was a private museum, endowed by Rockefeller money and constituted as an international institution. Its Board of Trustees included the heads of the several national schools of archaeological research in Jerusalem (ex officio) including the American School of Oriental Research [ASOR], the École Biblique et Archéologique (a national school, although its staff has been largely Dominican), the British School of Archaeology, the Palestine Exploration Society (now the Israel Exploration Society, and in 1953 sealed off from direct participation on the board) and the German school (supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinshaft). Also ex officio were the diplomats (usually the ambassadors) of the several nations listed and the Director of Antiquities (originally of the Mandatory Government, succeeded by G. Lankester Harding, the last British official to retain high rank in the Jordanian government). In 1953 and 1954, when the team was constituted, the Board of Trustees, whose elected president in those years was the director of the French school (de Vaux), determined to ask for nominations of the several national schools to be appointed to the team. At the same time, funds for purchase of scrolls and funds for sustaining the work in the scrollery were sought from these same institutions with the understanding that technical ownership would reside in these donor institutions, although the scrolls would be housed in the Rockefeller. Publication rights also resided in the national institutes, once their nominated scholars were confirmed by the Board of Trustees.
As it happened, I was the first named, and arrived in the summer of 1953. Carl Kraeling, president of ASOR, nominated me on the recommendation of elder statesmen of ASOR. W. F. Albright was a principal supporter of my appointment as I later learned, and I was accepted. Kraeling, director of the Oriental Institute, which had enjoyed benefactions of John D. Rockfeller, Jr., also gained a large grant for the support of the scrollery, for my support and indeed a large share of the support of other scroll scholars. The French school nominated J. T. Milik (already on the scene publishing fragmentary materials of Cave 1, DJD [Discoveries in the Judean Desert] I) and Abbé J. Starcky of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France). The British school, on Lord Driver’s recommendation, nominated John Allegro, and later John Strugnell. Patrick W. Skehan, director of ASOR in 1954–1955, was added to the team as an American representative and, in the same year, C.-H. Hunzinger by the Germans (Hunzinger later resigned).
Large or small grants were made by most if not all of these institutions or their member universities, either for team support or for purchase of Cave 4 scroll fragments. I should add that the Rockefeller Museum also put up funds for scroll purchases, and Harding arranged for a grant of funds from the Department of Antiquities of Jordan for one of the largest purchases of Cave 4 fragments. All of these materials were assigned to the team for editing.
Père de Vaux was assigned the task of general editor of the series; his particular task, however, was excavation of Khirbet Qumran (initially with Harding) and most decisions (e.g., assignment of MSS) were made by team consensus. I particularly resent your depiction of Père de Vaux. He was a liberal spirit, who made no claims to expertise in Semitic epigraphy or palaeography, the fields in which the team necessarily was adept. His genius was in organizing the national schools, in raising funds to purchase the scroll fragments, in arranging for publication (as well as in archaeology, his chosen field). Without his leadership as president of the trustees of the Rockefeller Museum, I am not sure that the purchase of the fragments, the establishment of a funded team or a series of major publications would have been achieved. He was in short one of the heroes, not one of the villains, of the history of Qumran research. At no point did de Vaux act unilaterally or arbitrarily. He was a scholar of integrity.
In 1966, when the Rockefeller Museum was forcibly nationalized by the Jordanian government, all of the scrolls were also seized (which included some purchased with Jordanian funds), although agreements with the international team for publication were honored. The endowment of the museum disappeared into government coffers. In 1967, the Israeli government assumed responsibility for the Rockefeller, and it too honored arrangements for publication, including the assignment of Noel Freedman to edit 11Q Leviticus, a task which he had not yet begun when the transition took place.
Since 1966, the team has acted as an independent body in administering its affairs. Père Benoit, who succeeded de Vaux as head of the École Biblique, was the team’s choice to become general editor, as was Strugnell, when it appeared that Benoit’s health was failing. Monsignor Skehan’s place was taken by Eugene Ulrich, on my recommendation, with the agreement of Skehan before he died, and confirmation by the team.
As for your presumptuous proposal of July 5, 1989,b only a comment. To give general access to plates of fragments (a shake and they are chaos) or to original photographs (the best record of the fragments in their early state) would be utter folly. If nothing else, there are scholars who are not honest; even with tight controls there have been thefts and pirate editions. The scroll committee with the oversight of the Director of Antiquities, and the scroll committee of the Archaeological Council of Israel, are the proper agents to exercise responsible care of the manuscripts of Cave 4 and access to them. As for my own MSS, their readings have been made available to major and responsible text-critical projects, and samples of MSS which diverge significantly from MT [Masoretic text] have been published.
It appears difficult for some to understand 062that Cave 4, unlike Caves 1 and 11, held no extensively preserved MSS. Cave 4 produced hundreds of thousands of fragments, mostly tiny, few joining, all jumbled. Glance through the plates of DJD VII, a volume of Cave 4 fragments published seven years ago; it should give you an idea of the character of Cave 4 materials. It is a fat volume, but so far as I am aware no one of those shouting loudest for publication has produced a serious study of its contents.
Frank Moore Cross
Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages
The National Enquirer of Biblical Archaeology
You have spent enough time on a “holy crusade” to have the Dead Sea Scrolls published. You should spend time on soliciting scholarly articles for the magazine instead of taking up valuable pages with your overzealousness and the need to know. Your fervor is noble. However, this is not the National Enquirer where the aim is to “dig up” all sorts of dirt to sell a few papers, in this case a few magazines. If this keeps up, perhaps the magazine should be renamed the National Enquirer of Biblical Archaeology. Which causes me to reevaluate whether I should renew my subscription.
Does BAR Know Something Others Don’t?
You are to be congratulated for your efforts to have the Dead Sea Scrolls released to anyone wishing to look at them. As your September/October 1989 issue mentions (“What Should Be Done About the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls?” BAR 15:05), there can be little doubt that scholarly selfishness and greed may well be at the bottom of the situation. I wish you luck in your continued efforts. As a footnote, you mention the rumor that the scrolls are being withheld because they contradict elements of faith in the Jewish and Catholic religions. Also mentioned is BAR’s categorical denial: There is no basis for such a suspicion although rumors to that effect have been circulating for years. Yet, if the scrolls have been withheld, how can BAR be so sure there is nothing to the rumors? Would it not be necessary to go through them all before making such a firm stand? Or, do you know something others don’t?
Forgive my presumption, but I would like to ask whether it might not help your efforts to have the scrolls freed by simply presenting the “rumor” in the form of a direct question to the Israeli authorities and challenging them directly to a yes or no answer. In other words, put them “on the spot” for having withheld for so long and for continuing to delay.
There must be a great many people, in all walks of life, who, after having read your articles with much interest, have had more than enough of “stonewalling” so that they can harbor suspicions of a “cover-up” somewhere. Why would there be reason for withholding information? Is the life of Jesus as a child/boy/teenager revealed to His detriment? Is His divinity questioned?
Are there unfavorable matters mentioned that might embarrass the Israeli government/religion/territorial claims? These might well be reasons for keeping the scrolls under cover and it makes one shudder to think of the turmoil that might arise. Nevertheless, truth is truth and it must stand. On the other hand, if the scrolls reveal nothing derogatory/unfavorable and corroborate/confirm Biblical teachings for Christians and/or give favorable confirmation to Hebrew religious practices, then one might expect there would be no problem with publication, other than credits. Continued stonewalling makes not only the scholars wonder, but even more so those of us “fans” who have only your splendid magazine for reference.
I am aware of my presumption in suggesting a “shootout at the Qumran,” and I know there are many, many facets of this disgraceful situation of which I am ignorant. I am also aware that such a question might well engender hard feelings that might hinder future work. Please forgive me, and consider my suggestion only as from an over-enthusiastic but uninformed amateur who would very much like to know the truth of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Norman W. Pinney, Ed.D.
Obviously, since the unpublished scrolls are still secret, we cannot know their contents. But we do know the scholars who control the publication of the texts and who do know the contents. We are absolutely confident they would have no part whatever in suppressing the scrolls for doctrinal reasons. We hope they themselves will put an end to these rumors by releasing the scrolls.—Ed.
Happy for Hanan Eshel
To Hanan Eshel: I enjoyed reading your article (“How I Found a Fourth-Century B.C. Papyrus Scroll on My First Time Out!” BAR 15:05). You bring the reader into your story. I felt that I was there with you, feeling your excitement. I’m so happy for you. I wish you many more finds though I know nothing will be as wonderful as your “cigarette” scroll!
Edwina M. Chaney
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Hideouts in the Judean Wilderness,” BAR 15:05, by Joseph Patrich, omits a significant credit. In 1988 Vendyl Jones, director of the Institute of Judaic-Christian Research, led an archaeological expedition beside the Dead Sea as he has done each 065year since 1967. All of Vendyl’s digs are sanctioned by Hebrew University. Jones’s crew was made up of Americans from all walks of life who volunteer their time and expenses to work for several months.
On this particular dig, eight to ten people were “loaned” to Joseph Patrich and his two co-workers—Beny Arubas and Beny Agur—over a several-week period. Patrich, being short-handed, requested their help and this group produced the manpower and did the physical labor that actually discovered the juglet of oil featured in the article.
If not for Jones and his amateur speleologists, perhaps the flask would still be lost to the world.
Virgil Carter, Editor
Pinnacle Books of America, Inc.
As I read the article by Joseph Patrich (“Hideouts in the Judean Wilderness,” BAR 15:05), I kept waiting for the names of the people and the organization that spent 12 years and nearly $2,000,000 (with the aid of over 500 volunteers) digging in the caves of Qumran. The Institute of Judaic-Christian Research under the direction of Vendyl M. Jones, Arlington, Texas, is the organization. The money came from donations by private individuals that support the work. The names of the volunteers are too numerous to list.
The oil flask that is mentioned in the article was uncovered by Joe Main of Longview, Texas. Beny Arbuas, an assistant of Joseph Patrich, removed the flask. I personally rubbed some of the oil that had leaked out of the small hole on my fingers. Not knowing what it was, I washed it off.
In the past three years, over $30,000 has been given to the Hebrew University and other departments and people by the institute. If it were not for Mr. Jones and the institute, Mr. Patrich would not have been able to do what he has said he has done.
Mr. Shanks, please give credit where credit is due. Let those who sweated, cried and bled on these digs know that the record can be corrected.
J. David Davis
The fault is BAR’s, not Dr. Patrich’s. This article was written and originally edited before the juglet of oil was discovered. As the article was being prepared for publication, the material concerning the juglet of oil was added. Much of the information was conveyed in telephone conversations from Jerusalem. In the course of carrying out Dr. Patrich’s instructions, the credits were inadvertently omitted. In a recent letter to us, Dr. Patrich writes, “Vendyl Jones is very well equipped, and very enthusiastic for this work, and so are the volunteers—excellent people, great lovers of Israel, enthusiastic workers. His and their share in the archaeological enterprise at the Qumran caves during recent years should not be underestimated, and I would be the last to ignore or omit their part.”—Ed.
Involving the Children with BAR’s Help
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent magazine. My husband and I found it a valuable preparation for our visit to Israel four years ago, and have found it a continual source of help in teaching adult and children’s classes at our church. This has also been true this past year as I planned, wrote curriculum for, trained teaching staff and then directed a children’s Vacation Bible School. The theme of the program was “Digging up the Truth—In God’s Word and in the Ground.”
Each day the children studied a Bible personality, visited the museum, participated in art work and experienced an “archaeological dig.” In the museum the children viewed slides, video programs and artifacts from Israel. They also learned about ancient culture. At the outdoor dig area they hunted for buried potsherds, 066ostraca and “ancient” coins. During the art period they had an opportunity to glue together sherds and work on other Bible-related crafts.
In addition to general information gleaned from reading BAR, we received help from the items offered in the Biblical Archaeology Society catalogue, and the Biblical Archaeology For Teens booklets advertised in BAR. Thank you for your help in our successful children’s “dig” experience.
Should BAR Picture Idols?
Your article (Ephraim Stern, “What Happened to the Cult Figurines? Israelite Religion Purified After the Exile,” BAR 15:04) depicting the Canaanite idols raises two concerns. The first questions the propriety of publishing pictures of these idols. If God and His creation found these and their worship so offensive, is it wise to perpetuate the offense? There is precedent for not speaking “of the things which were done by them in secret” (Ephesians 5:12). Scholars may reprimand me for attacking intellectual freedom (I’m a Ph.D. candidate) and others for attacking freedom of speech, but pornography has recognized traits. Why label these pornography? These artifacts were not intended for art or beauty, but for arousal of gods and man.
The second concern is that the USA seems not far behind the decadence of Canaan. We are due a reckoning and need to pray.
Otherwise I enjoyed your magazine.
Roy W. Henk
Millard’s Methodology Was Correct
Peter Vokac (Queries & Comments, BAR 15:05) has completely missed the point of Alan R. Millard’s very fine article “Does the Bible Exaggerate King Solomon’s Golden Wealth?” BAR 15:03. The question Alan Millard chose to discuss (as the title to his article indicates) was not whether Solomon existed or how he could have obtained his wealth; it was simply, “Is the wealth attributed to Solomon credible?” To establish its credibility, Millard seeks parallels in cultures that flourished in that part of the world during Solomon’s time. It is perfectly acceptable (indeed, it is common) for a scholar to establish plausibility by seeking parallels in related cultures.
University Park, Illinois
Yurco’s Article Should Suffice (But It Doesn’t)