Scroll on!This angel must be fake
November 26, 1999
I BELIEVE the Angel Scroll is a fake. The evidence for this biblical fragment, which has surfaced in Israel within the past few weeks, is overwhelmingly strong and it is the strengths, not the weaknesses, which arouse my suspicions. This Dead Sea Scroll seems just too good to be true. If the text is truly almost two millennia old, then Jesus was just one of many Essene philosophers preaching a new creed in the Holy Land during Rome’s occupation.
If the text is to be believed, the discovery by James Watson and Francis Crick of molecular DNA in 1953 was a mere echo of mystic knowledge about genetics, imparted in angelic visions. And if the text is genuine, Jewish mysticism and the whole of the kabbalic tradition is an offshoot not of Judaism but of Christianity.
The news broke in the Jerusalem Report, an English-language magazine edited by David Horovitz with many US and UK subscribers.
Horovitz had no doubts about the power of reporter Netty C Gross’s story the Report gave it cover status and five full pages inside.
Israel has every right to be jealously and fiercely proud of its Dead Sea Scrolls, the religious texts discovered earlier this century in Qumran. The leather manuscripts, found in jars by a Bedouin herdsman pursuing a runaway goat into a cave, were the work of an Essene commune destroyed by the Romans in CE68.
History cannot be certain about who the Essenes were, or even where they lived Roman writers disagreed, and called them widely scattered or confined to the desert, reclusive or life-loving villagers, penniless ascetics or wealthy tribes who shared their property. One thing is known they loved books. They established a library at Khirbet Qumran on the Dead Sea, and during the First Jewish Revolt they saved the manuscripts when they could not save themselves.
They bequeathed to the 20th century several versions of the Bible nearly complete, in both Hebrew and Aramaic and unique books including The War Between The Children Of Light And The Children Of Darkness. What reporter Netty Gross was shown were fragments of translations from a scroll said to have been found, not at Qumran but on the eastern bank of the Dead Sea in Jordan. One of the men who revealed the text’s existence was English-born Orthodox Jewish musician David Herman.
He claimed the Angel Scroll had been bought by Benedictine monks from an Amman dealer in antique rareties and kept in secret at a European monastery. One of the monks, known by the pseudonym Matheus Gunther, secretly made translations which he bequeathed to Israeli friends.
The manuscript is not available for inspection. There are no photographs. Matheus is dead and his notes have been transcribed onto a word processor, so even the monk’s handwritten translations cannot be inspected.
All that we have to judge is the text itself and very little of that. Stephen Pfann, a Dead Sea Scrolls expert at the University of the Holy Land, says he has seen about 25% of the translated text.
The Jerusalem Report reproduced just two passages but they were dynamite. ‘‘And the Angel Pnimea said to me, ‘And son of man, lift up your eyes and see all the secrets that are in the fourth gate which is the gate of birth.
Chambers ‘‘And I saw, and it was like the womb and the chambers of the stomach, and its waters gush and roar like the breakers of the sea on the wall of the cave.
‘‘And here is a seed of life in the water emanating from the seed of man and from the seed of the woman for male and female that He created.
‘‘And the seed that is joined from the two seeds is not like a clean slate. It is written inside and outside and it has within knowledge and understanding before its creation and before its creation in the womb.
‘‘And the beginning of the child is not in the birth or in conception nor is its end in death.’
The parallels between that ‘1st-century’ text and the 20th-century discovery of DNA’s double helix are striking. But is this an extraordinary vision merging Jewish mysticism with emergent Christianity or is it a modern-day hoaxer trying to be a little too clever? Stephen Pfann suspects the Angel Scroll is genuine. The language, with its mixture of Hebrew, Aramaic and occasional Greek words, is convincing. So is its references to ‘El’ for God and ‘belial’ for the devil.
‘‘It feels like a Qumran text,’’ says Pfann. This would suit some scholars very well, especially those who would like to prove that Judaism’s kaballah, the mysticism which grew alongside Christianity throughout Europe’s Dark Ages and Middle Ages, in fact stemmed from the early Christian movement.
My own belief is that anything so perfectly named as the ‘Angel Scroll’ must be faked. The US is crazy for angels. And scrolls. And antisemitic antiquities. It’s a hoax. A good hoax. Frighteningly good.
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