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Old 11-23-2017, 06:37 AM   #21
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Does any of the forged material attempt to add content to the "story"? Like in art, there are copies of known work, and there are the more complex and daring pieces that attempt to create something new, something the artist would have painted "next". And so they add to the story of that artist and his or her life and work. When discovered as a forgery, in some cases, they greatly diminish the entire body of that artist's work. Is that what's going on here? I guess we don't know what a good portion of the real scrolls say. A forgery would have to include portions of text that have not yet been published, otherwise it would be an obvious copy and of no real significance. Are these forgeries attempting to add content to the history of religious text? Have they changed the way we interpret the Bible? Cause that'd be pretty ballzy.
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:00 AM   #22
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Very interesting story. You're at TWU? One of my close friends is the coach of the men's hockey team. They've had a lot of success recently. Small world!
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:45 AM   #23
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So are these modern day forgeries, or are they still from antiquity, just not authentic or having anything to do with the bible? Like its a scroll, but its content is just completely irrelevant to the bible.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:50 AM   #24
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Does any of the forged material attempt to add content to the "story"? Like in art, there are copies of known work, and there are the more complex and daring pieces that attempt to create something new, something the artist would have painted "next". And so they add to the story of that artist and his or her life and work. When discovered as a forgery, in some cases, they greatly diminish the entire body of that artist's work. Is that what's going on here? I guess we don't know what a good portion of the real scrolls say. A forgery would have to include portions of text that have not yet been published, otherwise it would be an obvious copy and of no real significance. Are these forgeries attempting to add content to the history of religious text? Have they changed the way we interpret the Bible? Cause that'd be pretty ballzy.
Can’t speak about the forgeries but in the original findings there were multiple copies of the same books. (Like the book of Genesis was found 10 times i believe) So they don’t HAVE to add to the story.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:53 AM   #25
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So are these modern day forgeries, or are they still from antiquity, just not authentic or having anything to do with the bible? Like its a scroll, but its content is just completely irrelevant to the bible.
Man made forgeries. The original scrolls contained both biblical and non-biblical writings as it were.

Sounds like these were very well made forgeries to take advantage of the high price they command
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:25 AM   #26
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Man made forgeries.The original scrolls contained both biblical and non-biblical writings as it were.

Sounds like these were very well made forgeries to take advantage of the high price they command
Well that’s good news at least! Imagine if these were made by aliens or our future AI overlords!
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:34 PM   #27
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Does any of the forged material attempt to add content to the "story"? Like in art, there are copies of known work, and there are the more complex and daring pieces that attempt to create something new, something the artist would have painted "next". And so they add to the story of that artist and his or her life and work. When discovered as a forgery, in some cases, they greatly diminish the entire body of that artist's work. Is that what's going on here?
Not really. In a short essay that I wrote for the LA Times Marginalia Review of Books I made the following point:

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"This strong predilection in the private collections for “biblical” texts is no accident: Schøyen, MOTB and other institutions like APU and SWBTS have been ravaging antiquities markets, and they all enter with their own agendas and expectations intact. Their extravagant spending habits are guided by a strong, overarching theological interest in the text and formation of the Bible to produce eclectic collections of artefacts that project quite a specific narrative about its truth and reliability. For example, SWBTS acquired fragments in 2009–2010, which they featured in a public exhibition in 2012. Their collection includes an especially unusual fragment containing four lines of text that preserves parts of Lev 20:24 and 18:28-30 subsequently, in that order. The second passage stems from a notorious proscription against homosexuality, widely regarded as a significant theological touchstone by many Evangelical Christians. Bruce McCoy, the director of the Seminary’s exhibition said in a 2013 interview that this fragment commanded an especially high purchase price precisely because “the particular passage is a timeless truth from God’s word to the global culture today.” This is a special case, but it illustrates an important reality in today’s market for “biblical antiquities”: private collectors are willing and able to pay exorbitant costs to own even small scraps of the history of the Bible. But furthermore, some also seem to believe that their philanthropic endeavours satisfy a confessional directive to ensure and promote the integrity of the Bible. This rings true in Martin Schøyen’s tribute to his own collection of 32 DSS fragments:
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There are sacred biblical objects that have been sought for in vain for the last two millennia, such as the original tablets of the Ten Commandments, or autographs of any book in the Bible. These items have escaped any detection and are the cause of legends, wars, and a huge body of literature. They are perhaps deemed by some to be too sacred nature to be owned by any one institution or person. The early witnesses to the Holy Scriptures published in this volume are as close one can get to such sacred objects. They should be treated with due respect and veneration both by their keepers and those scholars who handle them. As their present custodian the undersigned is privileged and honoured, not really to own, but for a very limited time to be their humble keeper; not based on perusal virtues, but Soli Deo Gloria.
"Schøyen sought “sacred objects” unto the singular glory of God. The patrons of SWBTS, we are led to believe, were more inclined to employ their purchases to practical use. “Armour”—the son of SWBTS President Paige and Dorothy Patterson—has produced a first-hand account of the surprising acquistion by the Texas seminary of Judaean Desert manuscript fragments: “the building of an antiquities collection is congruous with the greater mission of theological education, and particularly so with the building of a department of biblical archaeology, which had long been one of Paige's foremost objectives.” Armour elucidates the importance of this mandate in typically tortured run-on prose:
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The task at hand could have been nothing less than daunting and unlikely, but for the first time in their ministries, the Pattersons were well acquainted with laymen and laywomen who not only were blessed financially but who also shared their passion for Scripture and for the pursuit of all that could further enhance the training of young men and women for ministry and that might also bring before more eyes, hearts, and minds the timeless foundation, veracity, and comfort of Holy Scripture
"Glorifying God and to educating apologetic Evangelicals helps some to justify the prohibitive cost of amassing private collections of biblical antiquities. But Armour’s elaboration is even more consequential than all that. To his credit, he sees the incredulity of critics toward building such programmatic collections of small scraps of ancient literature. He calls it an understandable “knee-jerk reaction” to simply assume that such is borne of an obsession by Christian fundamentalists with the historicity of the Bible. There is rather a good deal more at stake for those who hold fast to their belief in the Bible’s truthfulness:
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The history and precepts recorded upon the Dead Sea Scrolls introduced a personal God.... The mere possibility of the kind of God revealed in the Hebrew scrolls, for all people in every place and time, changes everything. It changes the relevance of daily choices, actions, and decisions of heart and mind, and it changes momentously those ultimate stakes with ramifications of eternity.
"An inherent urgency resounds in Armour’s appeal that dwarfs the monetary value of the small parchments themselves. But do these particular scroll fragments really satisfy his lofty claims? In addition to the scrap of controversial rhetoric from Leviticus, the remaining fragments in the SWBTS exhibit comprise bits of legislation against bribery and exploitation (Exod 23:8–10), prostitution and ceremonial impurity (Lev 21:7–12), rules for sacrifices (22:21–27), a petition by Moses to sooth God’s wrath (Deut 9:25–10:1), a prescription for temple sacrifices (Deut 12:11–14), a poem of anxious hope in the face of death (Ps 22:4–13), and portions of a vision ascribed to the prophet Daniel about the end of the world, which features descriptions of terrifying mystical creatures (Dan 7:18–19). The truth of the matter is that the Bible fragments at SWBTS—much like those belonging to Schøyen, MOTB, and APU—are too small to be of much scholarly, historical significance: they are curios. Despite his claims to the contrary, it seems more probable that a fundamentalistic obsession with the Bible is indeed what lays behind an underwhelming collection of enscribed leather and papyrus bits."
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I guess we don't know what a good portion of the real scrolls say. A forgery would have to include portions of text that have not yet been published, otherwise it would be an obvious copy and of no real significance. Are these forgeries attempting to add content to the history of religious text? Have they changed the way we interpret the Bible? Cause that'd be pretty ballzy.
We actually have a very good idea about what the real Dead Sea Scrolls have to say, and there are dozens of good translations and introductions on the market. As to your second point, the correspondences to modern editions is actually a feature that I have detected of a few of the fragments in my exposé.

For example, Schøyen owns three fragments containing text from 1 Enoch, and each of them "preserve" text that the original editor of actual 1 Enoch Qumran scrolls had suggested for his reconstructions of places where the original copies had deteriorated. He did this by retroverting Ethiopic and Greek back into ancient Aramaic, because the DSS yielded our only Aramaic copies of this text. The problem is that these retroversions don't always work, and the Ethiopic and Greek translations do not show a linear progression from Aramaic. So, it was pretty clear that these fragments were based on suppositions made by a scholar in this 1970s and not ancient editions.

I also pointed out another similar problem with a fragment of Jeremiah in Schøyen's collection: the fragment preserved a reading very close to the Greek translation of the passage, but one which bears a curious relationship to the Hebrew original. In an effort to explain this peculiarity the editors of Biblia Hebraica (the standard critical edition of the Hebrew Bible) hypothesized that the Hebrew was actually an ancient acronym which stemmed from an earlier version retained now only in the Greek translation. Schøyen's fragment very conveniently preserved the only manuscript evidence of exactly the same reading the BHS editors hypothesized. (I should note that there were other serious problems with this fragment, beyond the variant reading).

As near as I can tell most of the forgeries have been cleverly designed to raise very little controversy. They correspond to already known texts and from fairly obscure places of small significance in the Bible. The forgers know their audience: Since Evangelicals are strongly committed to this idea of the totality of inspiration for ALL of scripture, then any scrap from any part of the Bible—be it Isaiah 53 or Numbers 2—is of equal value.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:37 PM   #28
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So are these modern day forgeries, or are they still from antiquity, just not authentic or having anything to do with the bible? Like its a scroll, but its content is just completely irrelevant to the bible.
The media is probably ancient. That is, I suspect that the parchments and papyri are all from antiquity, but which have been written upon in modern times. The leather bits are interesting since I have doubts that they even survive from actual parchment documents. Many of them look like bits of ancient leather from old shoes or wine skins.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:42 PM   #29
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Can’t speak about the forgeries but in the original findings there were multiple copies of the same books. (Like the book of Genesis was found 10 times i believe) So they don’t HAVE to add to the story.
But an important point to include here is that the actual Dead Sea Scrolls do in fact add substantially to the story, and have completely revolutionized our understanding about the Bible, early Judaism, and early Christianity.

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Man made forgeries. The original scrolls contained both biblical and non-biblical writings as it were.

Sounds like these were very well made forgeries to take advantage of the high price they command
Here is one of the wrinkles in this story: the vast majority of these forgeries are not very good. One of the deeply seeded problems in our discipline is the extremely low threshold of acceptance for antiquities. The argument made for the Dead Sea Scrolls for decades has been that we can accept as authentic anything that can be connected directly or indirectly to the Kando family of antiquities dealers. Such is nonsense, and the procedures for authenticating antiquities are something that I and my colleagues are actively working to change.
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Old 11-23-2017, 01:22 PM   #30
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Is carbon dating used here as an initial step when considering authenticity?
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Old 11-23-2017, 01:38 PM   #31
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Is carbon dating used here as an initial step when considering authenticity?
Sometimes, yes. But there are two problems here:

First, most of the manuscript fragments in my research are either simply too small to carbon date, or their owners are far too reticent to allow it to happen. There is presently an ambitious research project in the Netherlands to have 100-or-so of the actual Dead Sea Scrolls re-tested using C-14, but the Israel Antiquities Authority who owns most of the DSS has fought this at every turn for precisely this reason: carbon dating is destructive, and the scrolls are already deteriorating quite rapidly. The common procedure is to date uninscribed sections of the material, but with very small fragments it is nearly impossibly to find suitable points for testing.

Second, C-14 dating is of limited use, because it can tell us only about the age of the media—NOT the date of inscription. For example, two recently revealed controversial manuscripts have both been carbon dated. The so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" fragment is a forgery, and when it was C-14 tested came through with an expected date. The carbon-dating was trumpeted by some scholars and in the media as proof that the fragment was ancient. Similarly so for the "Jerusalem papyrus." It was carbon dated and yielded a date in the mid–late first millennium B.C.E. But again, this fragment is also probably a forgery that we can demonstrate on the basis of palaeographical anomalies and syntactical anachronisms. This last one is an important fragment since if authentic would contain the earliest mention of Jerusalem and a Hebraic Jewish kingdom written in Hebrew. It was recently marshalled by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in a fiery speech laced with Zionistic rhetoric against the UNESCO resolution of 26 October 2016 which identified Israel as an "occupying power" in the West Bank.

The fact of the matter is that forgers have long realized the need to produce objects in close correspondence to their claimed ancient milieu. I suspect that if all of the MOTB fragments were C-14 dated they would yield dates in the late first B.C.E. and early first C.E. centuries. I would not find these tests convincing, since I suspect that the forgers used ancient materials in the first place.
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Old 11-23-2017, 02:11 PM   #32
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Sometimes, yes. But there are two problems here:

First, most of the manuscript fragments in my research are either simply too small to carbon date, or their owners are far too reticent to allow it to happen. There is presently an ambitious research project in the Netherlands to have 100-or-so of the actual Dead Sea Scrolls re-tested using C-14, but the Israel Antiquities Authority who owns most of the DSS has fought this at every turn for precisely this reason: carbon dating is destructive, and the scrolls are already deteriorating quite rapidly. The common procedure is to date uninscribed sections of the material, but with very small fragments it is nearly impossibly to find suitable points for testing.

Second, C-14 dating is of limited use, because it can tell us only about the age of the media—NOT the date of inscription. For example, two recently revealed controversial manuscripts have both been carbon dated. The so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" fragment is a forgery, and when it was C-14 tested came through with an expected date. The carbon-dating was trumpeted by some scholars and in the media as proof that the fragment was ancient. Similarly so for the "Jerusalem papyrus." It was carbon dated and yielded a date in the mid–late first millennium B.C.E. But again, this fragment is also probably a forgery that we can demonstrate on the basis of palaeographical anomalies and syntactical anachronisms. This last one is an important fragment since if authentic would contain the earliest mention of Jerusalem and a Hebraic Jewish kingdom written in Hebrew. It was recently marshalled by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in a fiery speech laced with Zionistic rhetoric against the UNESCO resolution of 26 October 2016 which identified Israel as an "occupying power" in the West Bank.

The fact of the matter is that forgers have long realized the need to produce objects in close correspondence to their claimed ancient milieu. I suspect that if all of the MOTB fragments were C-14 dated they would yield dates in the late first B.C.E. and early first C.E. centuries. I would not find these tests convincing, since I suspect that the forgers used ancient materials in the first place.
This is pretty interesting. What was the tolerance on the C14 dating? Would texts having to do with the same content all be pretty consistent with the media they were written on? And where are people finding these bits of ancient media to forge with? Were there blank portions of the DSS that were used?
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Old 11-23-2017, 02:28 PM   #33
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This is pretty interesting. What was the tolerance on the C14 dating? Would texts having to do with the same content all be pretty consistent with the media they were written on? And where are people finding these bits of ancient media to forge with? Were there blank portions of the DSS that were used?
I don't know a lot about carbon dating since I am not a scientist, and for this reason I am working with actual physicists in my present project, and I am not sure I understand your second question.

As to where the media comes form, and whether there are blank portions of DSS used for these fragments, this raises some interesting points in my research. Early on when I started working with Schøyen's fragments a common argument for the authenticity of some of them was that it would be so difficult to acquire large enough portions of uninscribed pieces from antiquity for just anyone. It seemed like a reasonable circumstantial argument, but with time I started to see some problems in it.

First, some history of the original discovery is necessary for establishing some context...

The DSS were primarily excavated by Bedouin shepherds between 1947 and 1953, and then sold through a middleman to the archaeologists at the École Biblique in Jerusalem. At first, they were paying set prices per individual fragment, but then quickly realized that the Bedouin were tearing fragments into smaller pieces in order to secure a higher return. They then decided to set a new price on the basis of each square centimetre of inscribed surface. Because of the sheer volume of material, there was little interest for a very long time in blank portions of manuscript fragments, and the Bedouin probably did not even bring many of these to their vendor in the first place, since they were not worth anything in the sale to the archaeologists. One of the archaeologists spoke about forming his own collection of "blanks" in an effort to eventually use them in a study of scribal practices, but the study never materialized before his death, and these uninscribed fragments in his possession have been lost.

Interests among scholars in scribal practices have increased substantially in recent decades, but we are now handicapped by the way this history has unfolded: many of what I would now consider to be highly interesting, uninscribed scroll fragments have been lost. And since in the early days of discovery there was little interest in anything other than inscribed fragments, also missing from this time are colour photographs of almost all the fragments (since most can only be read in the infrared spectrum), as well as photographs of the uninscribed verso side.

So, all that is to say that yes, I believe there are lots of uninscribed fragments from actual manuscripts circulating among private collectors, or squirrelled away somewhere in the Israel Antiquities Authority's holdings. I suspect that some of these might have been used for creating the forgeries I have seen.

But this does not account for most or even all of them. As mentioned earlier, many of the forgeries are physically quite dissimilar from fragments of actual parchment manuscripts in antiquity. My colleague, physicist Ira Rabin, has argued that many of the fragments cannot be identified as prepared parchments, and are technically more accurately described as "leather." Some of these bear the appearance of scraps from old shoes or wineskins, and I also suspect that bits of variously manufactured pieces of leather produced in antiquity have also been used to make fake DSS fragments. Interestingly enough, Schøyen actually has in his collection some leather remains of ancient sandals, and one of these actually appears very similar to another of his DSS fragments which we have physically tested and analyzed and shown to be a forgery.
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Old 11-23-2017, 03:08 PM   #34
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I wish I was as knowledgeable or passionate about anything as you are about this subject and your work TC.

Honestly blows me away. Kudos.
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Old 11-23-2017, 03:10 PM   #35
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Sorry, my question was just whether similar scroll content could/should/would be considered as coming from the same piece of parchment; for example, texts concerning Abraham all have the identical carbon dating results as any other texts about Abraham, or is there no guarantee that a fragment of the DSS brought in should be identical in nature to others.

It's a really interesting topic. You should really have a documentary made, these are very engrossing stories. I especially liked the one about Galileo's forged "Sidereus Nuncius".
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Old 11-23-2017, 03:10 PM   #36
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What about dna extraction?
Wouldn't you expect the parchment to contain dna similar in nature given (one would think) from closely related animals?
But then again as you say, if the forgers had access to blank parchments then that's going to pass also.
Also, you could date the ink to see if it correlates with the parchment age?
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Old 11-23-2017, 03:26 PM   #37
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How can you go from working on that to reading Fire GG posts here?
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Old 11-23-2017, 03:27 PM   #38
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How can you go from working on that to reading Fire GG posts here?
What better way to relax and turn your brain off?
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Old 11-23-2017, 04:31 PM   #39
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Yup ... from dealing with the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Red Sea Trolls.
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Old 11-23-2017, 04:35 PM   #40
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Sometimes, yes. But there are two problems here:

......

I would not find these tests convincing, since I suspect that the forgers used ancient materials in the first place.
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Here is one of the wrinkles in this story: the vast majority of these forgeries are not very good. One of the deeply seeded problems in our discipline is the extremely low threshold of acceptance for antiquities. The argument made for the Dead Sea Scrolls for decades has been that we can accept as authentic anything that can be connected directly or indirectly to the Kando family of antiquities dealers. Such is nonsense, and the procedures for authenticating antiquities are something that I and my colleagues are actively working to change.
I didnt realize so many werent even on ancient materials.

When I mean "well done" I meant they had to find ancient materials to inscribe. So the material would pass the carbon dating test, but is still an obvious forgery.
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