AMMAN — For those who first fell upon a number of ancient scrolls inside a West Bank cave in 1947, the magnitude of their discovery was slow to reveal itself.The article goes on to discuss the contents of the Scrolls and the history of their discovery and early study of them. The latter part could benefit from some nuancing and filling out, but the main thing of interest in the article is what it says about the study of the Scrolls currently in Jordan and the Arab world:
Eventually catching the attention of a biblical scholar and archaeologist, the newly-unearthed documents would “later [be] described as ‘The most important discovery of the 20th century’,” Omar Ghul, an epigrapher from Yarmouk University, explained.
While the scrolls have drawn immense attention from both the scholarly world and the public, they have not received enough attention from Arab intellectuals, Ghul said.This sounds all to the good. I noted an Arabic translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls by the Jordanian Dead Scrolls Project and Yarmouk University back in 2009. And I noted a recent interview with Professor Ghul about Jordanian inscriptions here.
An exception is the Jordanian Dead Sea Scrolls Project, which has established a library on the scrolls and has published six books.
The project has given more than 200 talks on the scrolls, delivered mainly at schools by graduate students from Jordanian universities, the scholar highlighted.
While the project has had successes, such as revising school curricula to cover the issue, “the main challenge” that faces Arab involvement in studying the scrolls is “the lack of qualified human resources”, according to Ghul.
In order to study the scrolls, one needs to know the languages in which they were written and the contemporary religious texts, with their cultural and historical background, alongside several other tools of textual investigation.
“Building these capacities should be the main focus of those concerned with pursuing the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jordan and Palestine,” he said.
“This task has been partly fulfilled for years now by the Department of Epigraphy at Yarmouk University, in which graduate students are provided with the basic knowledge they need to get involved in this interesting and challenging academic field.”