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November 22, 2002 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Rare Volumes

Unique 6,000-book library of a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar is for sale in Dearborn.


Special to the Jewish News

ll sed bookstores with a par-
ticular specialty thrive on
acquiring books from avid
That's why a local bookstore spe-
cializing in ancient and biblical stud-
ies considers it a real coup to have
acquired the academic library of John
Strugnell, former leader of the inter-
national team working on the Dead
Sea Scrolls Project.
With continuing interest in the
Scrolls for their clues about the ori-
gins of Judaism, it might seem unlike-
ly that this Harvard University profes-
sor's collection of up to 6,000 rare
books — including much material
about the Scrolls — would wind up
in a modest storefront on Michigan
Avenue in Dearborn.
But Dearborn is home of the aca-
demically known Dove Booksellers, a
new and used bookstore founded in
1985 by Jeffrey Ball of Detroit and
former partner Ed Jonas of
Bloomfield Township, now of Royal
Oak Books.
Strugnell of Cambridge, Mass., who





is experiencing declining health,
entrusted his library to Dove because
of its visibility to other biblical schol-
ars and the staff's ability to accurately
evaluate the highly specialized books.
Ball and his current partners,
George Wind of Detroit and George
Kelly of Dearborn, deal in academic
materials pertaining to early Judaism
and the rabbinic period just before
and after the time of the Second
Temple. They focus on the Tanach, as
well as the Christian Bible, archeology
and "the beliefs of the religious sys-
tems that existed at that time," said
George Kelly.
Strugnell's association with the
Dead Sea Scrolls began in 1955, fol-
lowing his training in Semitic lan-
guages and classics at Oxford
University in Great Britain.
"The original Scrolls team was
appointed in the early 1950s by
Jordan, which nationalized the collec-
tion in 1961, and denied Jewish
scholars access," according to a 1991
Jerusalem Report. Israel's Department
of Antiquities left the team's jurisdic-
tion over the Scrolls intact after Israel
captured East Jerusalem in 1967.
Strugnell, who taught at Harvard

School of Divinity for 37 years, worked
as a team member while the Scrolls
were under both Jordanian and Israeli
control. He served as editor in chief of
the Scrolls project from 1987-1990.
Controversy has surrounded him.
Under his leadership, the long publi-
cation delay of much of the Scrolls
material, particularly fragments from
Qumran Cave 4, raised an outcry
from scholars. Hershel Shanks, editor
of Biblical Archaeology Review maga-
zine, took up the cause to open the
Scrolls to other scholars and speed up
publication of the texts.
Though Strugnell and other editors
maintained that the work was being
conducted as expeditiously as quality
and funding allowed, he was removed
in 1990. Emanuel Tov of Hebrew
University became the first Jewish edi-
tor in chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Publication has gone faster since then.

Collection Highlights

Ball said Strugnell's library "is unique,
in that it is so deep in so many areas.
He had large sub-libraries in Semitics
— including Hebrew, Aramaic,
Syriac, Ethiopic — as well as Greek

and Latin, and large sections on clas-
sical studies, patristics [early church
writings], apocryphal and pseude-
pigraphal [falsely attributed] literature,
Judaism, Christianity, Hebrew Bible
and New Testament studies."
A highlight of the collection is
Strugnell's copy of the famous or infa-
mous Dead Seas Scrolls "concordance."
(A concordance is a list of words found
in a text arranged alphabetically, with
references to all the places where each
word is found in the text). The early
Scrolls team made a concordance of
the words in the unpublished texts to
assist their own work.
In the early 1990s, a copy of this
private concordance to the unpub-
lished scrolls was obtained (perhaps
illegally) and "reversed" by two schol-
ars. Using a computer, they construct-
ed a copy of the withheld text that
allowed the reconstructed text to be
published in an unauthorized format.
A lengthy lawsuit ensued in Israel.
The Israeli Supreme Court found that
Shanks, publisher of the text, had
denied scholar Elisha Qimron the
opportunity to append his name to his
own work. Qimron had reconstructed
the text from fragments, and although

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