THE FRUITS OF 'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE'

A rare volume that presents a single source for academic insights into the study of Dead Sea Scrolls and one collector's detective work that enabled it

 

The interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of this volume will serve as a model for future research.

In addition to palaeographical, text-critical, literary, and archaeological studies, there are also several scientific papers which present the results of various material analyses carried out on both textual and non-textual artefacts in the Schøyen Collection.

Dennis Mizzi
Department of Oriental Studies
University of Malta

 

Torlief Elgvin, the lead editor of Gleanings from the Caves (Bloomsbury Library of Temple Studies Series) has been on the international team responsible for publishing the Dead Sea Scrolls since 1992. In this book, he and his fellow authors and contributors present a unique combination of text and artefact editions and material analyses of the parchments that supplement the traditional philological analysis of the texts. The main purpose of this volume is to provide the scholarly world with precise descriptions and editions of the Judaean Desert fragments in The Schøyen Collection. It also presents artefacts found in the Judaean Desert, for context.Gleanings from the Caves cover

For the student of cultural heritage preservation, however, the volume provides important insights into the collaborative process between collectors and researchers. In his six page essay 'Acquisition and Ownership History: A Personal Reflection' Martin Schøyen describes how he tracked down and acquired Judean Desert fragments and artefacts in the 1990s. The narrative shows the painstaking detail and corroboration involved in purposeful acquisition along with the human aspects of the quest. At the time it was believed that no fragments were in private hands and private acquistion seemed a 'mission: impossible', but the acquisitions by The Schøyen Collection resulting from painstaking tracking down of the first and earliest known academic and non-academic handlers of the finds opened the market and brought long-forgotten cultural treasures to light.

Martin Schoyen Muhammad edh Dib 1997 900x562

Martin Schoyen with Muhammad edh-Dhib, discoverer of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1997.

The collection of images, photographs of the fragments, and scholarly commentary from some of the leading experts in the field gives the reader a comprehensive picture of the artefacts from Qumran that are part of the Schøyen Collection. The volume presents eight artefacts and 26 texts from the Judaean Desert, from Qumran, Wadi el-Daliyeh and Bar Kokhba caves, and includes ground breaking mineral analyses the shed new light on parchment production in antiquity. Ten of the fragments represent the earliest known witnesses to biblical texts.