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Zias on Jewish Week's "Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls?"

More misinformation published about Qumran

by Joe Zias

Original Jewish Week Article

More misinformation is a rather charitable term for the original "Jewish Week" article quoted by Goranson. Quoting Golb, who has for decades been written off by the overwhelming majority of Qumran scholars, particularly on the cemetery, is a case in point. To say that the men buried there appear to have been military men with "war injuries" is a classic example whereby a textual scholar, with neither understanding nor expertise in anthropology, makes wild claims which are then picked up by curators and journalists. We in the field of anthropology don't 'do' theology/textual studies for the obvious reasons; however, when it comes to anthro/arch, it's basically a free-for-all for textual scholars.

I would like to point out that several competent physical anthropologists have studied the skeletal remains and not one has ever reached the conclusions of Golb. In fact, of the 40 skeletons found there to date, there is not one sign of ante-mortem trauma in the collections, not even one broken finger. Golb, apparently, like many textual scholars with no training in anthro/arch, views photos in situ of the skeletons, and since there are many post-mortem breaks after 2000 years in the ground, he assumes these are ante-mortem. As a former curator of anthro/arch with the IAA responsible for the scrollery, this type of curation/journalism is academically and intellectually irresponsible. In short, as the overwhelming majority of scholars today will agree, De Vaux was essentially correct.

Lastly, the Brown conference which is quoted in the article is another case in point. Neither Emile Puech, from the Ecole Biblique who is one of those rare individuals with training both in archaeology and textual studies, nor I was invited to present a paper. When a scholar questioned this omission, one of the conference organizers politely answered "for political reasons." It It seems that that person didn't wish for his parade to be rained upon since the conference was basically a festive occasion for the nay-sayers to speak to one another. For those interested in the Brown conference proceedings, I suggest reading the reviews of the conference monograph before rushing out to purchase it.