Though the upcoming
The famous collection of about 800 religious and secular texts, written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, was found in caves near the northwest shore of the
Academics are divided between two principal theories regarding the origin of the scrolls. The original Qumran-Essenes theory was championed for decades by the late Catholic priest Roland de Vaux, who had been appointed by
Other believe the Scrolls were taken from the Temple in Jerusalem and hidden for safekeeping around the time of the First Jewish Revolt, circa AD 66 to 73, and that they represent the literature of the wider Jewish community rather than an isolated sect. This theory was first put forth around 1980 by Golb, who is one of the world’s foremost Scrolls scholars.
Golb summarized his assessment of the exhibition in a phone interview with the Post this week. “What I [saw] was mostly ideas and claims that were beyond the pale. For an exhibit to take place today to be so outdated, to only express the ideas of scholars [working] 40 or 50 years ago, and not by those who oppose their ideas, was really quite a shock to me,” he said.
“I don’t think that exhibition was in any way fair to the intelligent public. There was no pro and con. What kind of an exhibit is that when faced with a controversial subject? It’s contrary to the spirit of American museums.” Kohn was not available for comment yesterday.
In response to a request for details of its exhibition, the ROM sent a statement which read in part: “The Museum’s curatorial staff is committed to a scientifically objective and comprehensive presentation of the evidence surrounding the scrolls — their authorship, their recovery and their interpretation. ROM curators are in direct contact with international scholars from all sides of the academic and archaeological debate surrounding the scrolls, and their input is highly valued … The Museum is keenly aware of the profound interest in the documents that stand at the core of religious thought, and will take great care to ensure that their story is told in a balanced and objective manner.”
There is already one firm indication that Kohn and the ROM intend to present multiple points of view. Steve Mason, a professor at
“My response was one of surprise, and I cautioned that I might speak on the problems of the Dead Sea Scrolls-Essene hypothesis,” Mason wrote in an email to the Post. “She [Kohn] seemed to think that was fine, though she also welcomed a talk on other issues, such as the Judaean War.
“I didn’t notice the narrowness of vision that others have charged the [
The ROM's Dead Sea Scrolls project will run from next June 27 until Jan. 9, 2010.