Publication and Controversy

            The bulk of the controversy surrounding the publication of the scrolls related to the thousands of fragments from Cave 4. Volume 1 of the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD) series, featuring Cave 1 materials located in the Rockefeller Museum, had appeared in a reasonably timely fashion in 1955. By 1956, official publications of the other major writings from Cave 1 had been produced. 1QIsaa, 1QS (the Rule of the Community), and 1QpHab (The Pesher on Habakkuk) had appeared in M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery, vols. 1-2 (1950-1951); 1QIsab, 1QM (the War Scroll), and 1QHa (the Thanksgiving Scroll, or Hodayot)were published by E. L. Sukenik, as The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University (1955); and an edition of the Genesis Apocryphon was published by N. Avigad and Y. Yadin (A Genesis Apocryphon: A Scroll From the Wilderness of Judaea [1956]). The texts from the “minor caves”—caves 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10—were published in 1962, in 2 volumes, DJD 3 and 3a.            

            However, the Cave 4 materials entrusted to the “international team” were slow to see the light. The first volume of Cave 4 material, DJD volume 5, was published by J. M. Allegro with A. A. Anderson in 1968. Rather than following Allegro’s example, the additional members of the team criticized his work. While publication proceeded at a negligible rate, scholars outside of the official team were not even permitted access to photographs of the unpublished material, as team members sought to maintain editorial control of the material. The Biblical Archaeology Review, under the leadership of its editor Hershel Shanks, spearheaded a campaign for open access to the as yet unpublished scrolls.

            A significant breakthrough in the efforts to gain wider access to the scrolls was achieved in 1991, when B. Z. Wacholder and M. G. Abegg published a computer-generated reconstruction of 17 texts on the basis of a handwritten concordance that had been produced by the international team for internal use. In that same year, it was disclosed that a duplicate set of Dead Sea Scrolls photographs had been deposited for safekeeping in the Huntington Library in San Marino California, and microfilms of those photos were made available. Also, a facsimile edition of photos of previously unpublished material, especially texts from Cave 4, was published by R. Eisenman and J. M. Robinson. The Biblical Archaeology Society (publisher of  the BAR) was instrumental in both of these publication projects.

            Meanwhile, under the editorship of Emanuel Tov and with the support of the IAA, the unpublished scroll fragments in Jerusalem were redistributed to a larger scholarly team in order to accelerate publication, and the ban on access to the original fragments was lifted.

At this time, the publication of the known scrolls and fragments is virtually complete in the DJD series; photographs, transcriptions and translations of the scrolls are available to scholars and the general public in both print and electronic media (see Scholarly Editions and Translations). In the most recent effort to broaden access to the Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has embarked on an ambitious “Scrolls Digitization Project,” the goal of which is the creation of an online database of state-of-the-art photographs of the entire Scrolls corpus, along with transcriptions and translations of the material.