Wow—more bad news for the Museum of the Bible! Turns out five of their precious supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments, proudly displayed since the museum’s grand opening, are almost certainly fake. Tough break, much like working for Hobby Lobby and trying to get an IUD covered by your health insurance!
The Museum of the Bible is of course supported in major part by the Green family, particularly patriarch Steve Green, which is to say the folks who run Hobby Lobby, which fought all the way to the Supreme Court to create carve-outs in their employee health insurance offerings so nobody could get their heathen IUDs. Intensely evangelical, they have amassed an astounding collection of scripture-adjacent artifacts, much of which is now permanently parked at the Museum of the Bible.
Among the museum’s proudest holdings: 16 fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Turns out that five of them are too sketchy to display anymore, however. NPR explained:
The Dead Sea Scrolls fragments had been displayed since the museum’s grand opening in November 2017. Questions about the fragments’ authenticity were raised two years ago by museum-funded scholars in an academic publication.
One of those researchers, Kipp Davis of Trinity Western University, examined the fragments’ scribal quality, writing techniques and manuscript state. He wrote in October 2017 that his studies confirm “the high probability” that at least seven fragments in the museum’s Dead Sea Scrolls collection were forgeries, “but conclusions on the status of the remaining fragments are still forthcoming.”
But the institution got a German group (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung) do a bunch of tests and they confirmed that, sure enough, the pieces “show characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin and therefore will no longer be displayed at the museum,” according to an announcement.
“Though we had hoped the testing would render different results, this is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts,” Jeffrey Kloha, said the museum’s chief curatorial officer in their statement. What a coincidence—“well, it’s a teachable moment” is also what I say when I do something like show up to an airport 45 minutes before takeover and—surprise, surprise!—miss my flight.
As you may recall, previously, Hobby Lobby had to pay a $3 million fine for, uh, illegally importing a bunch of ancient artifacts from war-torn Iraq. They also had to give up the loot.