Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2018 Issue

Museum of the Bible Finds Its Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Are Forgeries

Cd180802-89b5-4643-b8a4-3b7254ef815f

One of the supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

The importance of authentication reared its head again in a discovery by the Museum of the Bible concerning fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls in their collection. They aren't. Scientific research on elements such as ink and paper, as well as penmanship style, have revealed them to be of a much later date. They are forgeries.

 

About a decade ago, the Green family of Oklahoma, owners of the Hobby Lobby stores and devout evangelical Christians, began buying up all sorts of material related to the Bible. The Museum of the Bible was a dream and they had the money to fulfill it. They were not careful. Earlier this year, they had to return ancient tablets and such to Iraq that had been smuggled out of the country. They also paid a $3 million fine. It is internationally recognized by treaty that a country's laws regarding ancient artifacts are to be honored by all, the U. S. being one of the countries that enforces these laws. In purchasing these items, which involved highly suspect claims of provenance and means of shipping them to Oklahoma, it is fair to say the buyers were extremely careless if not deliberately looking the other way. Sometimes, the desire to put together something really special leads people to abandon common sense.

 

During their buying spree, the Greens purchased 16 supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments which were contributed to the Museum of the Bible. Experts viewing the fragments raised questions concerning the authenticity. Considering the concerns, museum officials decided to have some of the fragments examined more thoroughly. The fragments were examined by Dr. Kipp Davis of Trinity Western University. He reported back, "My studies to date have managed to confirm upon a preponderance of different streams of evidence the high probability that at least seven fragments in the museum’s Dead Sea Scrolls collection are modern forgeries, but conclusions on the status of the remaining fragments are still forthcoming."

 

The next step was to send five fragments to Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM), a German firm capable of doing advance testing on them. BAM came back with the conclusion that the five fragments showed characteristics inconsistent with having ancient origin. The result is that the museum will no longer display these fragments, and now posts next to those still on display, whose authenticity is also in question, that there is doubt as to whether these are actually fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jeffrey Kloha, Chief Curator of the museum, said, "Though we had hoped the testing would render different results, this is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency."

 

Forgery has long been a problem in the field of books and paper, but more sophisticated methods of creating them, coupled with higher prices paid for the most desirable of items, has made it an epidemic. More than ever, this is an era of buyer beware. Take that into account when purchasing a collectible item of great value. If you cannot conclusively authenticate it, walk away.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions