March 15th, 1952
Dear W.F. Albright,
It pains me that you cannot be with us on our breathtaking dig as you are still visiting The John Hopkins University (Crawford 82). As you already know, The Dead Sea Scrolls, as the Bedouins refer to them, originally came from what is known as Cave 1 at Qumran (Reed 45). We are currently scouring the caves near the Northwest area of the Dead Sea shore looking for remaining fragments of the original scrolls the locals brought to us. As you will remember, we were originally given two copies of Isaiah, a Hymn scroll, a War scroll, a pesher (or commentary) on Habakkuk, a Genesis apocryphon, and a rule for the community from a Bedouin shepherd (Reed 45).
In summary, I am writing to you to explain the progress we have made. After studying these scrolls and the correspondence you sent to us, Brownlee and I have ascertained that these scrolls are written mainly on parchment, with a handful on papyrus (Cooper 88). That being said, they appear to be copies of the original biblical books, perhaps scribed by the Jewish sectarians from as early as 400BCE to as late as 300CE (Crawford 84). Ah! And how can I forget this next bit of information? The Bedouins, being so eager for their wages, have made almost all of the discoveries; however, a group of archeologists were able to uncover a scroll in Cave 3, written on copper (Crawford 82)! We have uncovered over two hundred and twenty-five caves to date, and Father Roland de Vaux is confident there are more to be found (Crawford 82).
Speaking of Father de Vaux, the leader of this expedition is everything we hoped we would be working with. We are so lucky to have been invited by him to the dig site. His charisma precedes him, and his benevolence is plenty. Speaking with him recently, Fr. de Vaux confirmed that a Bedouin treasure hunter just found about five hundred scrolls in Cave 4 (The Dead Sea Scrolls). He fears that he will have to pay a large sum to the man in order to receive them. How do you put a price on fragments of precious documents? Fr. de Vaux tells us, however, that his fears run deeper than money. He is worried of the controversy these discoveries will bring, particularly involving the authorship of the scrolls (Cooper 88). Having been translated and re-written, these scrolls may have been changed to depict relationships between the Romans and Jews, the Jews and Christians, and the Jews and themselves in a more political light (Cooper 88). He also fears that some scholars may prove too greedy to give up ownership of the scrolls, particularly if they host controversial information (Cooper 88). I guess you can say our publication The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery has caused quite the stir amongst religious scholars.
To summarize, in all we have collected fragments and manuscripts covering over nine hundred texts (The Dead Sea Scrolls). Of these, we have grouped them into texts from the Hebrew Bible, which cover about forty percent: texts from the Second Temple Period that were not included in Bible, which cover about thirty percent: and sectarian, religious texts, which round out with another thirty percent (Abegg, Flint, and Ulrich). These discoveries will modernize the way we view the Bible. Now we can have much more accurate translations, giving people the real word of our Lord. We have longed for a lens to view a more accurate depiction of the Bible, and we have been granted one. For as it is written in Matthew 7:7-8, ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
John C. Trever
P.S. Attached below is a photograph of one of the scrolls we uncovered.
Abegg, Jr., Martin, Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest
Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English, San Francisco: Harper, 2002. Retrieved from
Cooper, Ilene. American Libraries. Vol. 28, No. 4. (Apr., 1997). p. 88. Retrieved from <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25634413>
Crawford, Sidnie White. Near Eastern Archaeology. Vol. 65, No. 1. The House That Albright
Built (Mar., 2002). pp. 81-86. Retrieved from <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3210903>
Davies, Philip R. “Dead Sea Scrolls.” Photograph. “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” Faclan. Web. 28
March 2013. Retrieved from
"Discovery and Publication." The Dead Sea Scrolls. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/learn-about-the-scrolls/discovery-and-publication>.
Reed, Stephen A. The Biblical Archaeologist. Vol. 54, No. 1. (Mar., 1991). pp. 44-51.
Retrieved from <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3210331>