Tuesday, August 09, 2016

First Museum of the Bible Volume Released with 13 Previously Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

Pete Williams sent word yesterday that the first volume of the Publications of Museum of the Bible was published this week. Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection is edited by Emanuel Tov, Kipp Davis, and Robert Duke and features 13 previously unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls fragments. A number of introductory essays help explain the Museum’s collection and the program that led to this volume.

That program, known as the Scholars Initiative, is one of the book’s unique features. The program involves dozens of undergraduate and graduate students who are given the opportunity to help with fresh research on the museum’s artifacts. As someone who has been through this program, I can say that the opportunity it affords to young students is unparalleled. It is a fantastic way to mentor and train students interested in Biblical research.

The risks of involving students in this level of research are (hopefully) mitigated by the tiered structure of the program where students are overseen by scholar-mentors who are, in turn, overseen by the editors of the volumes (here Emanuel Tov). A special shout-out to Michael Johnson who was in the first “class” of the Scholars Initiative with me and who became one of the “principal investigators” in the volume (see p. xiii n. 15).

It is exciting to see this work coming to fruition. Hopefully the Greek volume will follow in the next year or two. (The press release says it “will be published soon.”)

MOTB.SCR.003172 Jeremiah. Showing image manipulation used to read the texts. Images by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman and Marilyn Lundberg, West Semitic Research

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction, Text Editions, the Collection of the Museum of the Bible, Textual and Orthographic Character, Relation to Other Fragments from the Judaean Desert Emanuel Tov
  2. Paleographical and Physical Features of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Museum of the Bible Collection: A Synopsis Kipp Davis
  3. A Methodology for the Digital Reconstruction of Dead Sea Scroll Fragmentary Remains Bruce Zuckerman, Asher Levy and Marilyn Lundberg
  4. 4 The Process and Goal of Research Robert Duke
  5. 5 Procedure Followed by the MOTB Scholars Teams: Manuscript Research as Pedagogy Lisa M. Wolfe
  6. Genesis 31:23–25?, 32:3–6 (Inv. motb.scr.000124) Elaine Bernius et al.
  7. Exodus 17:4–7 (Inv. motb.scr.000120) Karl Kutz et al.
  8. Leviticus 23:24–28 (Inv. ncf.scr.004742) Karl Kutz et al.
  9. A Fragment of Leviticus? (Inv. motb.scr.000122) Marty Alan Michelson et al.
  10. Numbers 8:3–5 (Inv. motb.scr.003173) Timothy D. Finlay et al.
  11. Jeremiah 23:6–9 (Inv. motb.scr.003172) Karl Kutz et al.
  12. Ezekiel 28:22 (Inv. motb.scr.003174) Ishwaran Mudliar
  13. Jonah 4:2–5 (Inv. motb.scr.003171) Catherine McDowell and Thomas Hill
  14. Micah 1:4–6 (Inv. motb.scr.003183) Peter W. Flint and David R. Herbison
  15. Psalm 11:1–4 (Inv. motb.scr.000121) Lisa M. Wolfe et al.
  16. Daniel 10:18–20 (Inv. motb.scr.003170) Robert Duke et al.
  17. Nehemiah 2:13–16 (Inv. motb.scr.003175) Martin G. Abegg Jr. et al.
  18. A Fragment of Instruction (Inv. motb.scr.000123) Michael Brooks Johnson


  1. Thanks for this. Congrats to the MOB team.

    It is an unusual volume partly because of the unusual process (well explained although the oddity is not necessarily registered) of involving students in the process. The tendency may well be towards over-interpretation (not least since these are very tiny fragments) - at about 10 pages per square centimetre there is a lot of analysis that goes beyond publication of the texts. Positively this means every letter identification has some actual discussion. Negatively the actual useful information about the texts could probably have been included in a single article.

    I was also a bit disappointed, although not surprised, that more information on purchasing and collection history was not included.

  2. There any word on when a paper-back volume (or significantly cheaper?) may be released? Whilst I really would like to read all the information in the book, not quite sure I can justify spending $99 on a 240 page book.

    Main question is: any significant readings found in these DSS fragments? Analysing the image above of Jeremiah 23:6-9, I see in line 4 (from v8) that we have something like:

    יהו]ה אשר הב[י]א את בל זר[ע

    Which I believe lines up with the LXX version of the verse.

    Anymore images you'd like to share would be quite useful... :)

    1. Correction: The above should read כל instead of בל.

  3. Wasn't this the series (or even the very volume) in which many assumed details about First Century Mark may be published? Too bad that still hasn't happened...

  4. Based on what is said in chapter 2 on Palaeographical and Physical Features at least one of the editors thinks these are forgeries. See p. 20-23 where samples of letters which follow the countours of the damaged fragments are discussed: "They raise suspicions about the authenticity of these fragments." (p. 23)