“American Priest, later serving in Switzerland”: On Provenance

By Årstein Justnes and Ludvik A. Kjeldsberg

[Updated: 30 October]

Most of the post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments come with stories. The following list presents information that we have been able to gather about their alleged provenance.

The list is organized chronologically, starting with the first frgs surfacing in 2002–3 and ending with frgs that have been “launched” recently.

Text(s) and Frg(s) Provenance Source
Gen 13:1–3 (“8QGen”)

Words from Genesis 22 (“4QpsJubb [4Q226] frg 6a 1–4″)

Isa 24:16–17 (“4QIsab [4Q56] frg. 16a 1–2”)

Isa 26:19–27:1 (“4QIsab (4Q56) frg. 20a 1–5”)

1 En. 8:4–9:3 (“XQpapEnoch”)
DSS F.125

 “These fragments
that came to Europe in the beginning of the sixties were in Lebanon with Mr. Moussa Al-Tawil for safekeeping”  (Statement to whom it may concern).
Eibert Tigchelaar,  “A Provisional List of Unprovenanced, Twenty-First Century, Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments,DSD 24 (2017): 173–88 (176). See also note 18: “This specific statement of which I have a copy, refers to the fragments that were published by Esther and Hanan Eshel as frgs. 2–5 in DSD 12, was signed by (William) Kando and dated Jerusalem 6 October 2002.”
Exod 3:9–10 [=16:10]; 3:13–15; 5:9–14
DSS F.103–105
[these frgs were sold as one scroll]
1. Community of the Essenes, Qumran (ca. 30 BC/20 AD–68 AD);
2. Qumran Cave 4 (68–1952);
3. Khalil Iskander Shahin (“Kando”), Bethlehem (1952–65), Lebanon (1965–69), Zürich (1969-93);
4. Private collection, Switzerland (1993–2001)
Martin Schøyen, The Schøyen Collection: Short Description Catalogue: Dead Sea Scroll material (not dated)
Deut 6:1–2
DSS F.108
1. Community of the Essenes, Qumran (30 BC–68 AD);
2. Qumran Cave 4 (68–1952);
3. Khalil Iskander Shahin (“Kando”), Bethlehem (1956–72);
4. American priest, later serving in Switzerland (1972–95)
Schøyen, Catalogue
2 Sam 20:22–24
DSS F.114
1. Community of the Essenes, Qumran (ca. 30 BC68 AD);
2. Qumran Cave 4 or 11 (68–1956);
3. Khalil Iskander Shahin (“Kando”), Bethlehem (1956–72);
4. American priest, later serving in Switzerland (1972–95)
Schøyen, Catalogue
Ps 9:8–13
DSS F.118
1. Community of the Essenes, Qumran (ca. 30 BC–68 AD);
2. Qumran Cave 4 or 11 (68-1956);
3. Khalil Iskander Shahin (“Kando”), Bethlehem (1956–72);
4. American priest, later serving in Switzerland (1972–95)
 “As for the small fragments of 2 Samuel (MS 5233/1), Psalms (MS 5233/2), and Deuteronomy (MS 5214/1) […], they were bought from the Bedouin in 1952–56, and William Kando states that he was reasonably sure they came from Cave 4. His father sold them to an American priest in 1972, who later served in Switzerland. His heirs in Zurich offered them for sale, with the provision that his name to be kept confidential.” Martin Schøyen, “Acquisition and Ownership History: A Personal Reflection,” in Gleanings from the Caves: Dead Sea Scrolls and Artefacts in The Schøyen Collection, ed. Torleif Elgvin, with Kipp Davis and Michael Langlois (LSTS 71; London: T&T Clark, 2016), 27–32 (29).
Tob 14:2–3
DSS F.123
1. Community of the Essenes, Qumran (ca. 50 BC–68 AD);
2. Qumran Cave 4 (68–1956);
3. Khalil Iskander Shahin (“Kando”), Bethlehem (1956–72);
4. American priest, later serving in Switzerland (1972–95)
Schøyen, Catalogue
Deut 27:4–6
DSS F.154
 “The Arab who formerly owned the fragment belongs to the family through whom the Dead Sea Scrolls have come to scholars. He claims it is from Qumran Cave IV.”

“The fragment […] was among at least forty unknown Qumran fragments that I have examined in Europe; some of them are with those who are now making them available to all. These fragments were sent out of Israel in the l950s and l960s. They were selected by the Arabs for saving because of their importance, according to experts like Roland de Vaux.”

James H. Charlesworth, “What Is a Variant? Announcing a Dead Sea Scrolls Fragment of Deuteronomy,” Maarav 16 (2009): 201–12 (205).
“This popular publication announces the recovery of a Dead Sea Scroll. Along with approximately 40 other Dead Sea Scroll fragments, some relatively large, it was taken from the Holy Land to Europe by Arabs, notably those related to the man who served as mediator between the Bedouin who found the Dead Sea Scrolls and scholars who proved their antiquity and edited the early discoveries. The fragments were taken to Europe, often through Lebanon, in the sixties (whether before or after the so-called Six-Day War I am unable to ascertain).

[…] Most of them [the Dead Sea Scrolls] were sold and subsequently hailed as the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times; others (unknown to most specialists on the Dead Sea Scrolls) were hidden and taken to Europe before or after some of the wars between the Arabs and the Israelis. Why? These fragments had been judged in the 1950s and 1960s as the most valuable biblical texts, according to internationally renowned biblical scholars who lived in Jerusalem. The Arabs wanted to reserve the Dead Sea Scrolls for economically challenging times and sell them for millions of dollars.”

James H. Charlesworth, “The Discovery of an Unknown Dead Sea Scroll: The Original Text of Deuteronomy 27?OWU Magazine (Summer 2012).
Neh 3:14–15
DSS F.122
“The one who had the fragment since the sixties reports that it is from Qumran Cave IV.” James H. Charlesworth (20 July 2008)
1. Community of the Essenes, Qumran (circa 30 BC–68 AD);
2. Qumran Cave 4 (A.D. 68–1952);
3. Bedouin discoverers to Khalil Iskander Shahin in Bethlehem.
4. Khalil Iskander Shahin to a private collector in France (1953–2004)
4. [sic!] Private collection, Switzerland (2004–6). Purchased and re-conserved by an American dealer in 2006.The item is guaranteed to be authentic, legally exported from the Middle East in the 1950s and legally imported into the United States.
Greatsite.com (first captured 22 November 2008)
The Azusa Pacific University frgs “All five fragments are from Qumran Cave 4.” Azusa Pacific University, “Dead Sea Scrolls Collection,apu.edu.
“Four of the fragments were obtained from Lee Biondi of Biondi Rare Books and Manuscripts in Venice, California. The fifth fragment came from Legacy Ministries International, a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit committed to telling the story of the Bible and assembling artifacts, objects, Bibles, and documents tracing the history of Scripture.” Azusa Pacific University. “Azusa Pacific University Acquires Five Dead Sea Scroll Fragments and Rare Biblical Artifacts,apu.edu (3 September 2009).


The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary frgs “[…] Zurich, Switzerland, where the scroll fragments had been kept for decades in a vault at the UBS Bank. ‘Old Man Kando,’ as I affectionately remember him, being a shrewd businessman, had known that the time for taking any artifacts out of the country was short. He thus took fragments of the scrolls in his possession out of the country before the enactment of laws that would have prevented any such movement.”  

Armour Patterson, Much Clean Paper for Little Dirty Paper: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Texas Musâwama (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2012), 30.

Ps 22:4, 6–9, 11–13
DSS F.102
[50:37-51:23]: “[…] last Tuesday when I was in Jerusalem I said to William [Kando], well, and I told him this story, again, just to remind him, and I said: “William, is it possible that the fragment that Southwestern Seminary just bought was in that box that your dad showed to Frank Cross in March of 1966 under that bridge in Beirut?” And he said: “Yes, it’s possible.” So, that gives you a clue, sorta to the root of a lot of these fragments. […] probably from Beirut, to Cypress, to Zurich, […], probably in 1966, just before the six day war, and we don’t have any idea how many there are.” Weston Fields, “Dead Sea Scrolls: Significance of the Latest Developments,” YouTube (16 April 2011).
Gen 31:2325?, 32:36
DSS F.191
[…] previously […] the property of the book dealer Michael Sharpe Jim Davila, OKC ‘Passages’ exhibition Dead Sea Scroll,” PaleoJudaica (19 July 2011).

Cf. also James H. Charlesworth, “35 Scrolls Still in Private Hands,” BAR 33.5: 60–63 (62): “As long as 10 years ago I knew of more than 35 Dead Sea Scrolls that are still in private hands, purchased decades earlier. I published two of them in Discoveries in the Judaean Desert and will soon announce the recovery of a fragment of Genesis.”

Gen 37:8
DSS F.102
 1. The Temple, Jerusalem (ca. 170–100 BC); 2. Community of the Essenes, Qumran (ca. 100 BC–68 AD); 3. Qumran Cave 4 (68–1952); 4. Khalil Iskander Shahin (“Kando”), Bethlehem (1952–65), Lebanon (1965–69), Zürich (1969–93); 5. The Kando Family collection, Zürich (1993–2010), acquired May 2010.  PENTATEUCH DEAD SEA SCROLL (4QRPB), schoyencollection.com.
 The Schøyen frgs published in Gleanings from the Caves that were acquired between 2009–10:

Gen 36:7–16
DSS F.101

Gen 37:8
DSS F.102

Num 16:2–5
DSS F.107

Deut 32:5–9
DSS F.109

1 Sam 5.10–11
DSS F.113

1 Kgs 16.23–26
DSS F.115

Jer 3.15–19
DSS F.116

 “The remaining fragments published in this volume came from a distinguished family collection, which was based in Lebanon c. 1965–69. It was moved to Europe in 1969 and kept in Zurich from 1993. Nearly all these fragments were purchased from the Bedouin between 1952 and 1956 and were also believed to come from Cave 4. I know the identity of the owners of this family collection, but the family
asked me to be so kind as not to reveal it, which I hereby honour.”
Schøyen, “Acquisition and Ownership History,” 30.

See also Gen 37:8 (DSS F.102) above.

Amos 7:17–8:1
DSS F.181
“Bought by Mr. Mark Lanier from the Kando family in 2013, their provenance according to the Kando family tradition is Qumran Cave 4. They are recorded here with all due caution as possibly deriving from that cave from which most Qumran fragments originated. However, the fragment could have come from any place […].” Emanuel Tov, “New Fragments of Amos,” DSD 21 (2014): 3–13 (3).
 The Museum of the Bible frgs “Some of these fragments must have come from Qumran, probably Cave 4, while the others may have derived from other sites in the Judaean Desert. Unfortunately little is known about the provenance of these fragments because most sellers did not provide such information at the time of the sale.”  Emanuel Tov, “Introduction, Text Editions, the Collection of the Museum of the Bible, Textual and Orthographic Character, Relation to Other Fragments from the Judaean Desert,” in Dead Sea Scrolls Fragment, 3–18 (5).
Les Enluminures frgs
(“the so-called ‘W’ fragments”)
From “circa 50 B.C.E.–60 C.E.”

“They were acquired by their American owner from the legal heirs of Khalil Iskander Shahin in 2002, and they are almost certainly from Cave IV.”

Sandra Hindman, “Unpublished and previously unknown fragments will be on exhibit in ‘2000 Years of Jewish Culture’,” Medieval text manuscripts Blog (3 November 2016).
“Discovered by Bedouin and purchased by original purchaser Khalil Iskander Shahin of
Bethlehem on the West Bank.
He moved his collection to Beirut in the early 1960s and to Zurich in the late 1960s. Acquired by purchase from the legal heirs of Khalil Iskander Shahin in 2002. Unstudied and unmarketed until 2016.”
 Les Enluminures press release from 3 November(?) 2016


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