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Re: Shapira fragments

On Thu, 6 Jun 1996, Pedro Goncalves wrote:

> I've been told a paper on the Shapira fragments was presented at the SBL
> Annual Meeting held in Chicago 1994. Would any one have a clue to who
> presented it and what was the gist of the presentation?

Here is the information from the 1994 SBL annual meeting program (please 
excuse the HTML markup):

S87	A 19th Century Dead Sea Scroll Scandal: Shapira's Deuteronomy and
Ginsburg's Verdict </h6>
Fred N. Reiner, <i>Howard University</i><p>
In 1883, Jerusalem antiquities dealer Moses Wilhelm Shapira offered a
Deuteronomy scroll to the British Museum for [[sterling]]1,000,000. Shapira
claimed the scroll had been discovered on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea and
acquired by Bedouins. Written in ancient Canaanite script, the scroll was
presented as the oldest biblical manuscript, of interest to scholars and the
public because of its ancient alphabet and its variations from the biblical
The museum publicly displayed the manuscript and asked masoretic scholar
Christian David Ginsburg to examine and evaluate it. After publishing sections
of it during the month he was charged with examining it, Ginsburg presented his
verdict: the scroll was a forgery, and "the compiler of the Hebrew text was a
Polish, Russian, or German Jew, or one who had learned Hebrew in the north of
Shapira, implicated in the alleged forgery, left London for Rotterdam where he
committed suicide. The manuscript has since disappeared; interest in it has
In August 1956, Menahem Mansoor questioned whether the Shapira scroll might
have been genuine, and the scholarly debate in the ensuing months included a
paper by Mansoor at the 1957 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical
This paper will present some newly discovered information about both Shapira
and Ginsburg and will probe their backgrounds and possible motivations. Why did
Ginsburg wait a full month to announce his decision? What was Shapira's opinion
of the scroll? What role did French scholar Clermont-Ganneau play?<br>
A study of relevant papers and letters shows Shapira to be a careful dealer;
Ginsburg's career, on the other hand, was marked by a number of scholarly
controversies. Might Shapira's Deuteronomy scroll have been an authentic Dead
Sea Scroll?

Jimmy Adair
Manager of Information Technology Services, Scholars Press
Managing Editor of TELA, the Scholars Press World Wide Web Site
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