The first Dead Sea Scrolls were accidentally discovered seventy-five years ago. Ever since that time, archeologists, biblical scholars, and politicians have struggled for control of the scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls disprove claims made by many atheists and skeptics who deny the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible. Unfortunately, however, there are a substantial number of missing Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
The fall 2022 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review reported that missing Dead Sea Scroll fragments include a large fragment from a Samuel scroll and three fragments from a Daniel scroll. There are more than 1,000 others. They have either been stolen, destroyed, misplaced, or possessed by someone who does not want them to be available to scholars and the public. Fortunately, scholars photographed some of the missing fragments before they disappeared.
Thirty years ago, Hershel Shanks, a well-known author and publisher, campaigned to get the people controlling the scrolls to make them available to scholars and the public. Tens of thousands of scroll fragments have been discovered, and most scholars have still not gained access to the ones known to be in repositories, not to mention the missing Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
This situation reflects negatively on the state of archaeology in the world today. Competition among archaeologists and biblical scholars has morphed into an attempt to control who has access to these artifacts. This conflict involves national interests, professional reputations, and grants. The religious beliefs of some archaeologists are also a factor.
Hopefully, the missing fragments will eventually be found, and all of them will be made available to everyone who should have access to them. These scrolls verify much of the biblical record and answer many of the challenges of those who oppose Christianity.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: “Missing: Have You Seen These Scrolls?” by Arstein Justnes and Signe M. Haegeland in the fall 2022 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review