The Post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments and Bible Study Software

Some of the post-2002 DSS-like fragments have polluted the DSS and Qumran modules (that are based on prof. Martin Abegg’s data) in Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos both on a corpus and manuscript level. This also has statistical implications. See the following list (where I refer to the modules as they are presented in Accordance):

DSS F. no Content Accordance modules
Misidentifications/manuscript pollutions Comments
Gen 13:1–3 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 8QGen (8Q1) frg. 1a 1–3 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2005)

Probable forgery

Words from Genesis 22 Qumran Non-biblical Manuscripts (QUMRAN) Wrongly identified as 4QpsJubb (4Q226) frg. 6a 1–4 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2005 & Parry & Tov 2005) Probable forgery
Gen 33:19–34:2 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
 Wrongly identified as 4QGenf (4Q6) frg. 1a 1–3 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2005) Probable forgery
103 (Exod3) Exod 3:13–15 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 4QExodc (4Q14) frg. 1a 1–3 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2007) Forgery
104 (Exod4) Exod 5:9–14 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 4QExodc (4Q14) frg. 1b 1–5 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2007) Forgery
 
[ArugLev frg. a] Lev 23:38–39 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Unprovenanced
[ArugLev frg. b-c] Lev 23:40–44, 24:16–19 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Unprovenanced
Deut 19:13–15  Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 4QDeutf (4Q33) frg. 12a 1–3 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2007) Probable forgery
199 (Ps3) Ps 11:1–4 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 11QPsc (11Q7) frg. 3a (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2007) Probable forgery
Ps 11:1–3  Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 11QPsc (11Q7) frg. 3b (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2007) Probable forgery
Isa 24:16–17 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 4QIsab (4Q56) frg. 16a 1–2 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2005) Probable forgery
Isa 26:19–27:1 Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
Wrongly identified as 4QIsab (4Q56) frg. 20a 1–5 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2005) Probable forgery
Jer 24:6–7  Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Canonical order) (DSSB-C)
Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Corpus (Manuscript order) (DSSB-M)
 Wrongly identified as 4QJerc (4Q72) frg. 21a 1–3 (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2007) Probable forgery
125 (En2) 1 En. 8:4–9:3 Qumran Non-biblical Manuscripts (QUMRAN)  Wrongly labelled XQpapEnoch (XQ8) (cf. Eshel & Eshel 2004) Forgery

Bibliography
Elgvin, Torleif, Kipp Davis, and Michael Langlois, eds. Gleanings From the Caves: Dead Sea Scrolls and Artefacts from The Schøyen Collection. LTST 71. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016.
Eshel, Esther, and Hanan Eshel. “A New Fragment of the Book of the Watchers from Qumran (XQpapEnoch).” Tarbiz 73 (2004): 171–79 [Hebrew]; V [English Abstract].
Eshel, Esther, and Hanan Eshel. “A Preliminary Report on Seven New Fragments from Qumran.” Meghillot 5-6 (2007): 271-78.
_____. “New Fragments from Qumran: 4QGenf, 4QIsab, 4Q226, 8QGen, and XQpapEnoch.” DSD 12 (2005): 134–57.
Fields, Weston, “Dead Sea Scrolls: Significance of the Latest Developments.” The Lanier Library Lecture Series 04/16/11.
Hallermayer, Michaela, and Torleif Elgvin. “Schøyen ms. 5234: Ein neues Tobit-Fragment vom Toten Meer.” RevQ 22/87 (2006): 451–61.
Parry, Donald, and Emanuel Tov, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader: Part 3: Parabiblical Texts. Leiden: Brill, 2005.
Puech, Emile. “Notes sur le manuscrit des Juges 4Q50a.” RevQ 21:315–19.
_____. “Un nouveau fragment 7a de 4QGn-Exa = 4QGen-Ex 1 et quelques nouvelles lectures et identifications du manuscrit 4Q1.” RdQ 25/97 (2011): 103–11.
Tov, Emanuel. Revised List of Texts from the Judaean Desert. Leiden: Brill, 2010.
Tov, Emanuel, Kipp Davis, and Robert Duke, eds. Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection. Publications of Museum of the Bible 1. Leiden: Brill, 2016.

26 thoughts on “The Post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments and Bible Study Software

  1. Good. This is a necessary step in the process. But allow me to make a couple of comments.
    •First, my mandate when constructing Dead Sea Concordances 1-3 was to include all of the documents in Emanuel Tov’s “Lists.”
    •Second, we have a bit of guilt by association at foot in this list—3 are marked “forgery” the rest are painted with the same pollution brush although marked probable forgery or unprovenanced—but assuming for the sake of argument that they are ALL forgeries, these fragments account for 0.17% of the morphological forms in the biblical data and 0.02% of the non-biblical. Or in other words, 179 of 103,383 and 32 of 174,917 morph forms respectively. Certainly we would hope for 0 elements of “pollution,” but this hardly amounts to the possibility of “major statistical implications” as suggested in the post. I have no doubt that misreadings in the editions is at least as problematic as outright fraud.
    •Finally, my procedure from this point on: my past position has been that I add nothing to the data until I have a peer-reviewed publication in hand. I have had to modify this position as a result of the recent debate: I will for the present allow everything in Tov’s list to remain but I will add nothing of the new publications (not even my own Nehemiah fragment!) until a peer-reviewed debate brings some degree of assurance as to what to remove and what to add.

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  2. Thanks, Marty. My biggest concern is that I think that they all are forgeries (with the possible exception of one of the ArugLev frgs). I see your point about statistical implications, and I should have used my words more carefully. At the same time: these fragments also affect the total number of scrolls. With these new frgs there are two or three more Genesis scrolls; one or to more Exodus scrolls; one or two more Isaiah scrolls, etc.
    Årstein

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  3. The problem of course is that we cannot simply take a poll of the approximately 150 DSS specialists to determine whether or not the recent fragments are forgeries. Although I rather like my own opinion on the matter, I must admit it is really next to meaningless as there is so much I do not know. We can perhaps hope that a test that was not known to the supposed counterfeiters can give us a “litmus test.” What do you think of Ira Rabin’s recent research on inks?

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    1. In response to this question about a “litmus test”, Shani Tzoref is correct in her comment below (4 December 2016, 12:22 am), that Ira Rabin’s research can only “prove forgeries in certain instances” but can NOT in most instances “be used for positive indications of antiquity”. Rabin herself repeatedly emphasizes this important distinction: Material analyses can sometimes definitively rule out authenticity, but the material sciences alone–employing multiple tests–cannot definitively prove authenticity. (Recommended reading: The 2015 article in NTS, which Rabin co-authored with Myriam Krutzsch.*) To the best of my knowledge, no “litmus test” exists. That’s one of many reasons that good provenance records are important. Rabin stresses this point as well, that provenance is “of UTMOST importance.” The more authentic objects material scientists can study, the better their chances of detecting counterfeits!

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  4. Concerning most of the post 2002-frgs: Note that nine frgs(!) were taken out of the Gleanings volume because the editors thought they were forgeries (cf. Elgvin’s and Davis’s papers at the Unbelieveable Past conference). Three of them are in the DSS and Qumran modules in Accordance.
    Testing is of course important, but what we really need to know is where these frgs come from. They are unprovenanced, and seem to come from multiple sources, but without lists of previous owners (often the owners will not even tell us what they know). Most of them have letters adjusted to the edges of the fragments. Many look like inscribed fragments, not like scrolls. Most of them have hesitant/imitated hands, and over 85% of them are biblical (they come with a nice canonical distribution, and are therefore easy to sell). Many correspond to modern editions (line by line). Nothing links them to Qumran (there may be exceptions, I know of none).
    I think Ira’s work is wonderful, but physical testing can never authenticate unprovenanced items.
    I guess I am first and foremost shocked that we let these fragments in. Most of them are just as problematic as the unfamous Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.
    In 1993 Kando said that he had no DSS left. Now there are more than 75 frgs. It is crazy.

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  5. I find this to be a troubling complaint, but not for the reasons you might expect. The software user (at least in Accordance) can easily exclude whatever texts they want but creating a custom range for the searches. There will always be texts about which scholars disagree. The database user should be allowed to make his or her own conclusions about which texts to include, which means that the database itself should take a broad approach to text inclusion. Scholarship should see itself as educating about the options not limiting the data for others.

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  6. Thank you for your comment, prof. Holmstedt. But let me ask you: Don’t you find it problematic that there are fragments in Accordance that are regarded as forgeries by the scholars responsible for publishing them?

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    1. I’m not particularly troubled for two reasons. First, I can easily exclude them from my research. Second, if the author of the editio princeps later has a change of mind (it happens) or another person makes a better argument for authenticity, I’d be irritated to not have access to the data.
      Databases 1) must presume an intelligent user and 2) should in principle include as much first order data as possible.

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      1. Professor Holmstedt,
        I believe you are correct in wanting inclusion of items that are unprovenanced. I also would think, following Rollston and Davis-Parker, that identifying all such items, as well as those considered by some as forgeries, within whatever medium it is presented. This would seem to be especially easy in software.

        Tim

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  7. I don’t think we can dismiss Årstein’s point as a minor statistical quibble. If seriously disputed manuscripts are to be included in commercially marketed databases, at minimum they should be unambiguously marked for the sake of transparency. I don’t think Accordance can “presume an intelligent user”—I assume this means someone with enough training in Scrolls who can independently identify problematic fragments—especially since Accordance’s products have tended to be marketed increasingly to beginning students, lay people and clergy than trained academics. It is one thing to design a module and use it discerningly and another thing to design it for a wide and uneven commercial audience, many of whom lack discernment in these matters.

    From the standpoint of professional ethics, what is at stake is not so much the particular degree of “pollution,” but the practice of producing databases for ancient manuscripts that make no distinctions regarding issues of provenance. This concern applies to any database of ancient artefacts. Would more refinement or metadata make these modules a less valuable or useful product? I suspect it wouldn’t.

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      1. But it *is* a minor statistical quibble. To call it anything else is to make much ado about virtually nothing. The “pollution” these data may cause is statically irrelevant. The real issue is whether and how they should be “published”. After following this issue in the field for over a decade, it seems that the calm, reasoned approach to mustering arguments in favor or against the authenticity of such things has given away to knee-jerk reactionism and an almost Putin-esque desire to dominate the flow of information. So, if we set such things aside, and consider this from a scholarship perspective, let me respond to your points.
        The “commercial” nature of the databases is no different than any published book, which a library or individual must buy. And the presumption of database user intelligence is a choice for those of us involved win the databases. The position that the information should be available to anyone and that it is our privilege to inform those interested in figuring them out is what education is about and the very definition of who we are (or it should be). To suggest that we not include them, when their status as “forgeries” is a matter of opinion, regardless how good, is to place us in the seat of controlling the information, not the education. That is a role I do not agree with in principle, since it reeks of elitism and an illiberal approach to education.
        The benefit of this hullabaloo is that Prof. Abegg and I have agreed that the databases should more clearly indicate provenance of lack thereof. But we are both committed to the dissemination of the data, not burying it. As a small additional benefit, the recording of unprovenanced texts, may well serve our ability to construct better arguments for identifying forgeries in the future.

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  8. I’m glad to hear that these texts will be flagged in some way in the future. It may not make a huge statistical difference now, but it sets a good precedent as more post 2002 fragments continue to emerge. As I understand there is still a good amount of unprovenanced “DSS” material forthcoming, and having a system in place to deal with them has a lot of benefit. And who knows, perhaps in a decade we’ll decide that the combined weight of these fragments are statistically relevant after all. I’d like to think Accordance will follow your lead and do the same as it expands its other modules for other corpora.

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  9. (1) I am astounded to see support here for lending scholarly authority to large-scale fraud with significant real-world dollar costs to real people and institutions. There are many ethical concerns involved in this scandal, in which contaminating the data set is one part of the picture. The umbrella use of “doubtful provenance” to cover likely forgeries is very problematic. Caveat emptor is, at the very least, an abdication of professional responsibility.
    (2) To those who find Ira Rabins work useful for authetication: could you please cite specific publication(s) and how any of her methods can be useful for authentication? As far as I have seen, her publications are mostly about how none of her methods can be usefully applied; her contribution to Gleanings was a repudiation of some of her earlier work. I have seen some indications of how testing of ink could prove forgeries in certain instances, but presumably most modern forgers would be familiar with these pitfalls and would avoid them. i have not seen any literature about how ink testing can be used for positive indications of antiquity or provenance. I would very much appreciate references to such literature. Thanks

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    1. I am equally astounded at the near-sightedness and short-term thinking reflected in the exaggerated astonishment of the nowadays typical response to the appearance of unprovenanced epigraphic items.
      On the one hand, calm, cool scholarship is the reasoned response we try to model in training graduate students. Educating others and discouraging ignoramuses (institutional or otherwise) from spending money on such fragments should be the consensus. But essentially hiding questioned texts (not yet deemed as forgeries by the majority) reflects such an arrogant and unscholarly attitude, I find it mind-boggling to see it defended so vigorously.
      On the other hand, a bit of history should help to cool off all the young Turks in this topic. Remember the Shapira affair. We now know that Ginsburg’s arguments that the Deut ms was a forgery are flawed and that it might have been quite an old genius ms. Stories like this ought to sober us from drawing such hard and fast lines in the sand based on the best arguments this generation can muster, because the next generation may show those arguments to be more than a bit misguided.
      So back up and take your claims about professional responsibility back home until you can engage without the pretentious Molotov cocktail tossing.

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      1. Where did you see me advocate the view you attributed to me, and moreover accuse me and others of “vigorously defending”: “essentially hiding questioned texts”.
        In what way is advocating the flagging of unprovenanced texts “essentially hiding”?

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      2. Professor,
        Having read this entire thread and seen the value in the discussion and sometimes ‘fighting’ associated with these not provenance texts, I fully agree that their value far exceeds any statistical anomaly. Additionally, the very idea that some scholars would not address these issues in the open, at the very least, does indeed limit our knowledge.
        I pray that in the future all epigraphic items will indeed be included in all medium and clearly marked if known as a forgery or of doubtful provenance. This will allow the non-specialist to easily exclude these items, while still making ALL the data available.

        Thanks for your passion and wisdom!

        Tim

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  10. If by your being astounded at support for the inclusion of the texts under discussion, you did not essentially denounce the inclusion of unprovenanced texts in databases (implying that you argue for their wholesale exclusion thereby limiting access to them by all but an extremely small group of researchers), I apologize.
    And if you did not accuse those of us overseeing the databases, who will include the texts but have agreed to mark such texts as unprovenanced, as “abdicating professional responsibility” (implying not only that marking the texts is not enough but also that you are the judge and jury of professional responsibility), I apologize.

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  11. There was indeed a miscommunication.
    In my accusation of abdicating professional responsibility, I was referring to your initial two comments and some of your positions in your third comment. Not to your current stated policy, which is sensible, and which I wish would have seemed obvious from the get go.
    I was also reacting to the manner in which I understood your rhetorical “tone”in writing, “The benefit of this hullabaloo is that Prof. Abegg and I have agreed that the databases should more clearly indicate provenance of lack thereof.” i.e., the dismissive vernacular of “hullabaloo”, and the indication that this is an indirect benefit that is secondary to the whole objection, when in fact it is very much at the heart of the objection for many of us: that unprovenanced material be treated as unprovenanced material.
    As for the authenticity vs. forgery question, that is a much larger and more sensitive issue than I would like to address here. I have commented on the matter in some of the academia.edu discussions and in private correspondence with some of the relevant parties. There, I would not use the word “astounded”. I have a much broader range of vocabulary that I would use, but I await more open communication by more knowledgeable parties, many of whom have expressed to me their unwillingness to engage in public discourse on the matter, for a range of reasons.

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    1. And so you confirm my description of your comments. I think the miscues are due to your jumping in mid-stream and reacting to the end without taking into account the starting point. It’s what I call “close reading”.

      “Hullaballoo” refers to the description of the databases as being “polluted” by a statistically irrelevant data set, particularly when the databases in question reflect the official DJD/Tov list. Such data will never throw of a statistical study. To argue otherwise and drag into disrepute the work of many years involved in creating databases for others to use is the “hullabaloo” (which is a nice way to put it, frankly).

      We then shifted the conversation to the broader issue of whether academics should be the gatekeepers of data (I position I oppose strongly) and to the issue of how to present the texts in the databases. I think the cloak and dagger-esque description of your backroom conversations nicely illustrates the problem — whether or not this represents your specific case, this very activity has the feel of influence peddling, information control, and self-interested promotion. If there are texts, they should be outed and studied. If not fully available, I would advocate throwing them in a fire if I could grab them. No more hiding. No more teasing. No more media shows. It drags the academic enterprise into the gutter.

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      1. You once again misconstrue.
        I did not jump in at the end, ignoring the beginning.
        Rather, I addressed primarily the beginning, and this is also what I stated in my clarifying statement.
        I secondarily addressed the tone, throughout. In my clarifying statement I tried to explain my reading of that tone.

        I did not address the matter of pollution. And I would never devalue the Accordance Dead Sea Scrolls module and associated database.
        You could have asked me in what way I saw anybody on the thread advocating abdication of responsibility.
        You did not.
        instead, you jumped to a conclusion.
        I explained what I had been referring to.
        You then simultaneously misrepresented my clarification and asserted that it was improper to address certain comments and not others….

        It would be nice if you would simply agree that unprovenanced material ought to be flagged, not as a concession to us rabble rousers but out of scholarly responsibility; further, to thank us rabble rousers (but using some kinder term) for bringing about this development.
        I do not understand your reluctance to do so. (I am no longer astounded, simply uncomprehending. But this is a state to which I am becoming accustomed in our emerging post-truth world).

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      2. Turn your criticisms around. Face up to your lack of clarity and address it, rather than increase obfuscation, throwing out passive-aggressive barbs along the way. You made assumptions and then proclaimed your astoundedness and our professional irresponsibility.
        If you’re being misconstrued, perhaps it’s because you’re unclear and aren’t really interested in asking questions but prefer to pontificate. And hiding behind odd laments about post-truth world are silly.

        If we had simply been asked to mark unprovenanced texts, we would have happily agreed. And been thankful for the suggestion. Instead, it is a blog-ambush.

        I was a rabble-rouser once. Now I’m just a curmudgeon. But my young Turk activities were pre-blog days. Ahh, the quiet (and still respectful) way such things used to be …

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      3. i own my lack of clarity in my initial comment. That is why I wrote in my second comment that there was indeed a miscommunication. And then offered clarification.
        I don’t think I was being passive aggressive. I was being overtly aggressive. I found your first two comments to be an indefensible defense of abdication of responsibility. And I said so. (Though I neglected to flag which comments I was responding to, and that was poor communication on my part, as i noted above, and above, and above). I still believe that and I still stand by that criticism.
        For the rest— i do not feel free to divulge certain comments that colleagues have made to me in confidence. On this matter. Frequently, I do divulge confidences, when I am convinced that doing so can be constructive. In fact, I am often criticized for this. You might be the first person who has ever accused me of withholding information rather than haranguing me for disclosure. Quite refreshing, actually. (That is not passive aggressive nor sarcastic. simply frank).
        I am not hiding behind post-truth, but lamenting it as loudly as i can, in many spheres. This is just not one where I’m free to do so. And yet, I do not long for the bad old days, when, for example, the “respectful” discourse you miss included Gentlemen’s Agreements to exclude Jewish scholars from the “international team” studying the Dead Sea Scrolls, and women were not even sufficiently present in the field as to warrant overt exclusion
        And with all that, I thank you for your engagement.
        Bottom lines— you will flag unprovenanced material.
        You agree that there needs to be open conversation about authenticity.
        Progress indeed.

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