All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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Secret Alias
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All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:42 am

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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DCHindley
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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by DCHindley » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:05 pm

I wonder who are creating these things? Considering the fact that they know Hebrew, which among the general forgery community is probably in the minority, it sounds like Jews/a Jew out to make a bundle, but that sounds a little too stereotypical.

But who else? Actual scholars?

Whoever it was went to great lengths to fake the color and consistency of genuine DSS, which suggests a familiarity with them that is more than casual, but he/she/they had to settle for leather as the material, going to the trouble to imitate the look of the gelatin that forms as leather deteriorates using glue.

Does anyone remember the Shapiro affair? Going from memory, he found a leather scrap that had some text from the Pentateuch in letters that resembled that of ancient inscriptions in stone. People accused him of faking iot, but he insisted that he found it in an excavation.

Who has access to ancient leather, such as those of ancient Roman sandals. A Museum?

Perhaps we should look to the Roman shoe museum (sarcasm alert!). But is there a museum that is known to have a collection of ancient shoes? Turns out they are fairly common, including a couple found in excavations of Qumran and others from Egypt and the famous "cave of letters." This sort of stuff must then be considered readily available to a forger..

DCH

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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:21 pm

I know it's crazy. And because all things bring me back to Secret Mark it's funny how different these are from that text. Scholars aren't very creative. These forgery have little in the way of imagination. Of course Secret Mark 'could be' a forgery. Like it's possible that I am a bot. But these kinds of DSS fragments are the kinds of texts you'd expect to be forgeries and they fooled experts anyway.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by DCHindley » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:35 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:21 pm
I know it's crazy. And because all things bring me back to Secret Mark it's funny how different these are from that text. Scholars aren't very creative. These forgery have little in the way of imagination. Of course Secret Mark 'could be' a forgery. Like it's possible that I am a bot. But these kinds of DSS fragments are the kinds of texts you'd expect to be forgeries and they fooled experts anyway.
As far as I know, leather was exceedingly rare as a writing material. The fact that the post 2002 fragments were leather and not parchment should have been a giveaway. I think microscopic analysis would have allowed scholars to determine whether they were one or the other material. Maybe scholars were blindsided, and just assumed they were parchment. They were doctored to mimic the gelatin that comes from decomposition of parchment, and perhaps it did not occur to anyone to apply analysis to the "gelatin." I'm realizing that there is a lot of Roman era leather sandals and boots in museums, the origins of which come from Jerusalem, Masada and other archaeological digs in Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and even far away Vindolanda in the UK. I guess some of it, like drugs in the evidence locker at the busy police station, just "walks away."

I think the situation with Secret Mark is completely different. Whoever copied (or created) the text was not trying to make it look like some fragment of an ancient scroll or codex from Clements' time. I remember the plot of 1972 bestseller book turned into a movie The Word by Irving Wallace. In Wallace's book the forgers were portrayed as making a significant effort to make the book look authentic for the period it claimed to have been written in, including using actual ancient materials and stylus/ink etc. It took a lot of effort (in the book) to unmask the forgery, similar to the efforts recently done to debunk the M.O.B. fragments.

The Letter to Theodore which contains a quotation from Secret Mark is just written into the end pages of a printed book, like it was, or pretended to be, something that a guest at Mar Saba found in a manuscript in the main library and copied into one of his personal printed books. The printed book was probably NOT part of the main library at any time. Somehow the copyist left without his book, either by design or maybe death.

We don't happen to have relocated the end pages that were lost, filed away in some Eastern Orthodox Patriarch's library. Boo-hoo! It may well turn up, if the Patriarchal authorities feel it serves their ends to do so, but generally they have not felt the urgency to do so, outside of locating the color photographs. But what would it tell us? We all know how amateurish the handwriting analysis of the B&W photos were subjected to, but as far as I know no one has attempted to do the same with the color ones. If we had them, we could analyze the paper, the ink, the impressions left by the writer's stylus, but I don't think it will get to the bottom of who the writer/forger really was. Insert your favorite prospect or villain here.

DCH

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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by StephenGoranson » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:15 am

Moses W. Shapira (1830-1884) claimed that he obtained ancient strips of an expanded text of Deuteronomy. Many thought, correctly imo, that this was forgery. A recent exception: Shlomo Guil, “The Shapira Scroll was an Authentic Dead Sea Scroll,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 149.1 (2017) 6-27. Reportedly, some mss owned by Shapira had the bottom margins cut off.

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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by StephenGoranson » Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:05 am

At National Geographic Magazine "This story has been updated with additional details about the provenance of the Museum of the Bible's Genesis fragment."

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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by StephenGoranson » Mon Mar 16, 2020 1:49 am

Prof. Christopher Rollston wrote a long blog post on these forgeries, including:
“…Here is a profile of the forger: I believe that the forger of these Dead Sea Scrolls forged fragments is a trained scholar in our field, with access to actual ancient scrolls. I believe that the forger forged them during the course of a few months, or more likely, a couple years (this also accounts for some of the variation in the script). I believe that venality (indeed, outright and blatant greed) is a primary motivation (literally, netting the forger millions of dollars for these Museum of the Bible forgeries), but greed is not the only motivation. I believe the scholar of these forgeries is particularly hubristic, and assumed he (or she) could fool all other scholars (and also probably delighted in this assumption). I do not think that these were forged as some sort of a joke (as was the case in the Coleman-Norton forgery and in the case of the Hebron Philistine Documents). Clearly, I believe that the forger is amoral. Also, I believe that the forger worked primarily alone, but could have included a paid friend or associate who had at least a high-school level knowledge of chemistry (these forgeries are not sophisticated enough to have included the assistance of a trained scholar in chemistry).

Also, I believe that a good investigative journalist should be capable, given the resources (e.g., several months of compensated work) of a good newspaper or learned society, should be able to discover the identity of the forger.”
http://www.rollstonepigraphy.com/?p=884

I [SG] add: As to “the forger worked primarily alone…,” perhaps indeed, as far as forgery, but the distribution reportedly also involved William Kando, whether knowing about forgery or not, so, if so, perhaps some relationship, even if with a go-between, may be possible, to create a putative “provenance.”

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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by DCHindley » Mon Mar 16, 2020 1:06 pm

Hi Stephen,

You are still involved in the library/publication end of your institution's operations, I believe.

What you bring up is very important, and the profile seems to be correct.

For the perpetrator, though, what social factors do you think most affected the person's motivation?

The Liberal Arts has been coming under increasing stress for at least 20 years. Business or Hard Science is doing well. Do L.A. professionals in Academia feel left out, maybe abandoned?

How many academic workers might be tempted to use their great, although not highly transferable, skills to deceive and score a profit at the expense of gullible true-believers (who never really liked them anyways)?

Or are we on the wrong trail?

DCH

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Re: All Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible are Forgeries

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Mar 16, 2020 11:08 pm

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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