Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ministry Owns A Piece of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Ok, I am going to be blunt: this not something to celebrate....it is a historical travesty. I find it patently offensive that a bunch of bible-thumping morons actually own a piece of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is morally wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin.

First, Legacy Ministries International is not in the business of "educating the public on the history of the Bible" - it is interested in making sure that the public only hears the selected version of biblical history that a priori substantiates their particular theological perspective. I doubt there is anyone in their office with training in antiquities preservation or the legitimate credentials to evaluate the historical significance of whatever piece of the scrolls these intellectual midgets claim to have.

Second, the fact that Biblical Archaeology Review appears to be touting this as something of significance (private ownership of antiquities) suggests to me that Hershel Shanks cares little about archaeological preservation. Legacy Ministries apparently has been sending the word out that they want to buy antiquities for their museum. I would like to know how many of their bible "antiquities" were acquired through illegal or illegitimate means.

Third, I really despise private ownership of any kind of antiquity - historic, prehistoric, paleontological, anything. Private collectors, "amateur" archaeologists (there's no such thing - there are only professional archaeologists and looters) have contributed nothing to the advancement of our knowledge about the past, but they have contributed significantly to its destruction.

I once referred to the private sale of fossils by landowners as "paleontological prostitution"; I suppose that I can now consider Legacy Ministries to be promoting a biblical brothel...

4 comments:

Duane said...

Christopher,

I agree with your indignation! It is not unlikely that this fragment is from the “private” collection of someone who had legitimate access to it. Note that one of five Dead Sea Scroll fragments in Martin Schøyen’s private collection was published in DJD vol. 38 as XQJosh prior to his acquiring it. How did that fragment come to be on the market? I know of several cases where seemingly legitimate scholars "collected" antiquities and then either they or their estates sold them to the highest bidder. Not ever black market piece comes from "looters" some of it comes from "professional archaeologists."

By the way, as I think you know, I have a small private collection of pottery from Palestine. I collected from antiquities dealers in Israel in the 1970s. I would not do it today and am looking for a public home for my collection.

Duane

Christopher O'Brien said...

Duane,
Don't apologize...I have "stuff" too! (Although like you, everything in my collection also makes the public rounds: schools, public presentations, local museum displays, etc. - something different from private collectors); I don't doubt that sometimes we're our own worst enemy in this regard...and I'm really not talking about the casual arrowhead or pottery collector who has an interest in the history. I really should be clear that I'm venting my anger at "dealers", "brokers" (and those who purposefully seek them out to buy antiquities) - not the average citizen who acquires something here and there. And if "professional" archaeologists are engaging in this kind of activity, then it is a crime more heinous than most.

Biby Cletus said...

Hi i just surfed in searching for interesting facts on Essenes in the blogs.
you have a cool blog. Do keep up the good work. I'll be back for more. i live
far from where you live. its nice to be able to see what people from across
the world thinks.

On a related note perhaps you might find the following article interesting.
we are currently doing a series of posts on essenes and their culture and i'll
like to hear your take on the subject via comments. See ya there....

Historical
Facts on Essene Culture


Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.
Bijoy Cletus - Kerala, India

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