The Flexible Provenance of the Museum of the Bible Genesis “Dead Sea Scrolls” Fragment (Gen 31:23–25[?]; 32:3–6, DSS F.191): Three Snapshots

By Årstein Justnes

Christian Brady, “New Genesis Text from the Judaean Desert,Targuman, 17 July 2007:
→ “Today James Charlesworth presented an image of a fragment (in two parts) that he acquired on 25 October 2006. He said it had been in Zurich since the 50’s and reportedly came from Kando.”
→ “AMSC14 dates it from 95-195 CE. JC believes it was found in the caves of the Dead Sea region. He wants scholars to report that he has tried to prove that it is a fake and he has been unable to so he asserts that it is authentic. He also announced that he has acquired another 30 DSS fragments. They will all(?) be available online later in August at http://ijco.org/.”

James H. Charlesworth,  “35 Scrolls Still in Private Hands,” BAR 33.5 (2007): 60–63, at 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.”

Michael Greshko, “Exclusive: ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ at the Museum of the Bible Are All Forgeries.” National Geographic, 13 March 2020:
→ “[William] Noah and [Michael] Sharpe both say that leading scholars threw their support behind the fragments. Records provided by Nat Des Marais, Sharpe’s former business partner, say that Dead Sea Scrolls scholar James Charlesworth, who retired from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 2019, helped validate the Genesis fragment’s authenticity. In an email, Charlesworth noted that when he described the fragment to other scholars in the past, he reported that it was probably authentic but not from the same time and place as the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Qumran. But after another look at a picture of the fragment, Charlesworth voiced fresh skepticism. ‘I am bothered by the handwriting; it now seems to be suspicious,’ he says. Charlesworth also says he has seen pieces of blank, ancient leather in circulation.‘ In the past, when I told the Bedouin that a piece was worthless because it had no writing, I inadvertently suggested how to make it valuable,’ he says.”

One thought on “The Flexible Provenance of the Museum of the Bible Genesis “Dead Sea Scrolls” Fragment (Gen 31:23–25[?]; 32:3–6, DSS F.191): Three Snapshots

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