Thursday, December 01, 2016

Dead Sea Scroll Forgeries in Your Favorite Bible Software?

Dead Sea Scrolls in Accordance
Over at the Lying Pen of Scribes blogÅrstein Justnes has posted a list of forged Dead Sea Scrolls that have made their way into modules for Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos. Among other problems, Årstein points out that their inclusion in this software “has statistical implications.”

Now before you go and toss your PC out the window (if you have a Mac, go right ahead), Martin Abegg adds some important context in the comments:
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.
Årstein thinks all the fragments he lists are forgeries adding in the comments that “most of them are just as problematic as the unfamous Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” He also clarifies that the statistical implications are mostly to do with how many DSS manuscripts we have for various Biblical books.

Certainly something to be aware of if you use these modules.


  1. Are you saying directly that these fragments are forgeries? Or are you just saying that there is a concern that they may be forgeries?

    1. James, who are you asking?

    2. James,
      Justnes lists 3 as forgeries, 2 as without provenance, and 9 more as probable forgeries. Justnes, then, in a discussion with Abegg, says he believes ALL are forgeries.
      Ultimately, I believe the main point is that doubted Mss should be identified in any medium in which they are listed, following Rollston.

    3. The whole Bible is composed of forgeries.

      Early Christian religious deceptions, which few, if any Christian ministers will admit: Jesus' Apostles did not write the Gospels as claimed by so many prevaricators in the Christian ministry. “… It thus appears that the titles of religion vs science of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.” ~New Advent Encyclopedia aka Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. VI, 655-656. cf. Acts 4:13.
      Proselytizing, not Truth, Propaganda, not history. The Catholic Church admits that the Epistles of Paul are saying, “Even the genuine Epistles were greatly interpolated to lend weight to the personal views of their authors.” ~Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vii, p. 645.
      Chronology was little known and less observed among the Hebrews, for all their early sacred, and even other writings, contained neither the name of the writer, time when, nor place where written.
      The non-authenticity of these [Gospel] books having been clearly shown, what is the result? Any book, paper or other document not written in whole by the purported author, is a forgery. ~See Bouvier's Law Dictionary; also Webster, Worcester, et al.
      “Although ancient traditions attributed to the Apostle John the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and the three Epistles of John, modern scholars believe that he wrote none of them.” ~Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible, Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985, p. 355.
      “The Gospels are so anonymous that their titles, all 2nd century guesses, are all four wrong.” ~Randel McCraw Helms, Who Wrote the Gospels?
      “All four gospels are anonymous texts. The familiar attributions of the Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John come from the mid 2nd century and later and we have no good historical reason to accept these attributions.” ~Steve Mason, professor of classics, history and religious studies at York University in Toronto, Bible Review, Feb. 2000, p. 36.
      “Most scholars have come to acknowledge, was done not by the Apostles but by their anonymous followers (or their followers’ followers). Each presented a somewhat different picture of Jesus’ life. The earliest appeared to have been written some 40 years after his Crucifixion.” ~David Van Biema, The Gospel Truth? Time, April 8, 1996.
      Based on language analysis, the unknown author of Matthew was most likely a highly-educated Jew who wrote in Greek, but with a Jewish worldview and schooled in Jewish Law, which negates a corrupt tax collector. ~cf. Acts 4:13. J.D. Crossan, Who Killed Jesus, 1995. Mack, The Christian Myth, 2001.

  2. Maybe meant "infamous."
    For reasons to think some 21st-century-sold "DSS" mss are forgeries, if interested, see papers by Justnes and by Eibert Tigchelaar on
    (Speaking of modern forgeries, the egregious "early Christian" lead tablets are back in the news.)

  3. Peter Gurry,
    I was asking you.

    1. Okay. I'm not saying anything. Just relaying the message.