© John C. Trever, PhD/Digital image by James E. Trever

BROUGHT TOGETHER BY CHANCE. In February 1948, during the last troubled days of the British Mandate over Palestine, John C. Trever (at right in photo) was working as a fellow at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem and had been named director pro tem of the almost-empty school. When he took a phone call from someone claiming to have old Hebrew manuscripts, Trever was reluctant but agreed to look at them. The caller, a Syrian Orthodox monk named Butros Sowmy (at left in photo), brought four parchment scrolls to the school, escorted by his superior, the Metropolitan Yeshue Samuel (at center in photo). As the scrolls were unrolled, Trever struggled to suppress his mounting excitement as they revealed ancient Hebrew texts much older than he had expected. As he and other scholars would soon discover, Trever was looking at 2,000-year-old copies of the complete Book of Isaiah (held by Trever, above), the Habakkuk pesher (“commentary”; held by Sowmy), the Genesis Apocryphon and the Rule of the Community—the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls.