Religion: Secrets of The Dead Sea Scrolls

A scholarly squabble over an archaeological treasure

Oxford scholar Geza Vermes calls it "the academic scandal par excellence of the 20th century." Columbia University's Morton Smith protests that there is "no justification" for it. Fumes California State's Robert Eisenman: "We are tired of being treated contemptuously." Behind the scenes, scholars are exchanging bitter private letters and passing around bootlegged photos. What is all the fuss about? The protesters are referring to the long delay in making public many of the Dead Sea Scrolls, those mysterious documents discovered between 1947 and 1956 in caves 20 miles east of Jerusalem. As they see it, the world has long been unnecessarily...

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