BAR has sent letters to Dead Sea Scroll chief editor John Strugnell and to the other four editors on his publication team,j asking them to consider sending Israel’s Department of Antiquities a blanket authorization to permit other scholars to see the unpublished texts assigned individually and personally to each of them.
The key people among the five are J. T. Milik and John Strugnell, who control the vast majority of the unpublished texts. The other three editors control texts that are not as widely sought after or have relatively small assignments.
We estimate that between them Milik and Strugnell control well over 200 texts and 700 plates.
In the letter we sent to the editors, we stated:
“Allowing free access to the unpublished texts should not threaten any of you. Some of you have almost completed your work. In any event, you have a 30-year head start on anyone who should wish to steal your thunder. You above all know how difficult it is to publish these texts; you will not lose your life’s work if others are permitted to see the unpublished texts and use them in their research.
“Considering the matter, on the other hand, from the viewpoint of scholars who feel they have been cut out of work on the unpublished texts all these years, it seems only fair that now they should be able to see them. Why not simply announce to the world that any scholar who wishes can now have access to the published texts!”
We will report to our readers the scholars’ replies to our request.