Dead Sea Scrolls for Sale

Last night I watched an online freebie lecture from The Teaching Company on the discovery, acquisition, and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Of the several interesting details I gleaned, this was the most surprising:

This advertisement was placed in the Wall Street Journal on June 1, 1954 by Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan, Mar Samuel. Mar Samuel purchased the four scrolls from a cobbler/antiquities dealer for less than $100 in 1947. He then lent them, for a time, to Eliezar Sukenik, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,  but Sukenik’s requests to purchase the scrolls were denied. In 1949 Mar Samuel traveled to the United States with the scrolls in his possession.

Five years later, when he placed the ad in the Wall Street Journal, it was answered, ironically, by Sukenik’s son, Yigal Yadin. Through an intermediary called “Mr. Green,” Yadin purchased the scrolls for the State of Israel for $250,000.

Unfortunately for Mar Samuel and the Syrian Orthodox Church, the IRS laid claim to the lion’s share of the profits.


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