Page 9 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JACOB KABAKOFF
Introduction
T
h e
c o n t r o v e r s ie s
c o n c e r n in g
the character and the import
o f the Dead Sea Scrolls have not abated since the Scrolls were
discovered in the Q um ran caves in 1947. During December
1992 a special conference was held in New York City at which
some o f the conventional beliefs about the na tu re o f the
Q um ran sectarians were challenged. T h e launching by the Is­
raeli D epartm en t o f Antiquities o f an elaborate exhibit on the
Scrolls, first at the Library o f Congress, and later also at the
New York Public Library and the M.H. de Young Memorial
Museum in San Francisco, has again focused widespread a tten ­
tion on the sensational finds.
Placed on exhibit are a num be r o f items never before g rouped
toge ther outside o f Israel. Among them are fragmen tary sec­
tions o f the Damascus Covenant Document, the Psalms Scroll,
the Manual o f Discipline, the War Scrolls and the much debated
Miqsat Ma’aseh Torah
(Some Rules Pertaining to the Torah). In
addition, various Q um ran artifacts, such as Tefillin boxes, and
clay and stone implements, are being shown. T h e exhibit is ac­
companied by a catalogue and several high-tech educational ma­
terials are to be made available. These include an interactive
compact disk about the Scrolls and the ir background, and a
CD—Rom tha t will contain various interviews and discussions
and will be suitable for libraries and universities. It is also
p lanned to p rep a re microfiche reproductions o f the Scrolls.
Perhaps all the atten tion which is being lavished on the Scrolls
will serve in some measure to offset the criticism which was
levelled against the oversight committee tha t had been guiding
the research on the Scrolls. Various claims were made to the
effect tha t access to the Scrolls had been severely limited and
tha t the rate o f publication had been slow. Among the most
vocal critics was Dr. Robert H. Eisenman, o f California State
University at Long Beach, who toge ther with Dr. Michael Wise,