Mr. Spock and Qumran

Thanks to Stephen Goranson for drawing my attention to an episode of the television show “In Search of…” that aired on 9 February 1978. The topic of this episode, narrated by Leonard Nimoy, was the Dead Sea Scrolls. The content is fairly mundane, but there is a nice little segment with John C. Trever. He describes his first encounter with the scrolls and talks about his concern (immediately alleviated!) that they might be forgeries.

The video has some nice footage of the caves and the site, and it is interesting from the standpoint of the conservation of the scrolls to see a plate of fragments from that period. I believe this is 1Q22:

Now, it’s only by chance that I recognized this plate because I have been spending some time looking at old PAM images, and just yesterday I saw a really interesting image of 1Q22, which seems to show that when it was found by excavators as a decayed roll in the cave, a stone was embedded in it.

1Q22; image source: PAM 40.511 The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

But I digress. You should watch the video just to hear Spock tell the story of Muhammad ed-Dhib discovering the scrolls.

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3 Responses to Mr. Spock and Qumran

  1. I may well be mistaken, but for the PAM photo above, do you mean 40.511?
    The Leon Levy DSS site says that was taken in April, 1953.
    But is it the same photo (or an infra-red redo?= “scanned infrared negative”?), same hand-written notes, and less cropped (see “too wet” written at bottom?) in Illustrated London News, August 20, 1949, v. 215, iss. 5757, page 261?

    • Thanks, yes, you’re right. Not sure how that error crept in. I’ll fix it. And yes, I think this is probably the same photo as the ILN 1949 image (or rather, maybe it’s a photograph of that image?). These Harding pictures in the PAM series are a bit of a mystery to me. When Årstein Justnes brought them to my attention, we wondered if they were the “excavation” photos that Harding mentioned having taken in DJD 1, but the series also includes material that is elsewhere said to have been purchased later (1950). It’s a real puzzle.

  2. From a recorded conference and a recent publication come the preliminary suggestion that some Dead Sea Scrolls are to be dated “earlier… than thus far entertained,” “in a number of cases might be slightly older,” “moving up in the second and even third century BCE”.* If that, in future publications, is confirmed and accepted, then it may further show that late first century proposals for the identities of the Wicked Priest and the Teacher of Righteousness are too late to be plausible. The project obtained 30 additional C14 texts (in Gronigen, Odense, and Pisa) and also used artificial intelligence with palaeography.
    NYU Conference (DSS in Recent Scholarship) presentations are recorded, here:
    *quotes from 1:30-1:31 in the recording.
    The Hands that Wrote the Bible. Digital Palaeography of the Dead Sea Scrolls for Identifying and Dating Manuscripts – Mladen Popović and Maruf Dhali, University of Groningen.

    Also, Eibert Tigchelaar, “Seventy Years of Paleographic Dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” pages 258-278. In: Sacred texts and disparate interpretations Qumran manuscripts seventy years later: proceedings of the international conference held at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, 24-26 October 2017: Seventy Years of Palaeographic Dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 2020.

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