Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fake Dead Sea Scroll fragments?

FORGERIES? Newly Discovered Dead Sea Scrolls are Skillfully Crafted Fakes, Experts suspect (Nina Burleigh, Newsweek). I have noted this story before, but this article has some new specifics:
American Steve Green, the evangelical Christian heir to the Hobby Lobby craft chain fortune and the force behind the Museum of the Bible, an endeavor Newsweek covered earlier this year, has spent millions on the new finds. One fragment sold to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary conveniently refers to the biblical prohibition against homosexuality in the Book of Leviticus.

The problem is, experts suspect many of these sensational and pricy new fragments are expertly crafted fakes. For example, the fragment references passages in Leviticus 18 and 20 that contain the two strongest condemnations of homosexuality in the Bible. Such a strong coincidence is a flag of fakery.

“It is extremely unlikely that a small Dead Sea Scroll fragment would preserve text from both chapters” of Leviticus, says religion scholar Arstein Justnes, at University of Agder in Norway, who called the new fragments “amateurish” imitations that seem to have been copied from modern textbooks about the scrolls. “I think this fragment was produced for American evangelicals.”
Too good to be true is often too good to be true. But this is a guideline, not a rule. Watch this space.

Background here and here. For background on the Green collection, start here and follow the many links.