New Access, New Findings

The Israel Antiquities Authority in late October opened access to all original fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ending 40 years of exclusive control and controversy. Earlier this year two American professors recreated copies of previously unreleased texts by computer, after which the Huntington Library in California opened access to its exclusive copies (CT, Oct. 28, 1991, p. 42).

One scholar claims he has discovered information in the newly released fragments indicating a closer link between early Jews and Christians than previously suspected. Robert Eisenman, professor of religious studies at California State University, Long Beach, said five lines in the fragments speak of a Messiah hailing from the line of King David who “was pierced for our sins.” The phrase could indicate one of the earliest reports of Christ’s death by Jewish sympathizers, or it could show that the idea of a crucified Messiah existed before Christianity. Eisenman says his finding bolsters complaints of a scholarly monopoly on the scrolls. Other experts, however, have questioned Eisenman’s conclusions, which are based on only a small portion of text.

Church Still Persecuted

Recent reports indicate that Communist leaders in China have intensified their persecution of Christians. At least 84 church leaders are under arrest, many suffering torture, according to reports by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Switzerland-based human-rights organization. “Numerous reports have indicated that Christians are being singled out, having been subjected to beatings, imprisonments, and heavy fines on account of such ‘crimes’ as holding ‘illegal’ gatherings, ...

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