A Case Study in Professional Ethics Concerning Secondary Publications of Unprovenanced Artefacts: The New Edition DSS F.Instruction1

  • Michael Brooks Johnson (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


A recent development in scholarly discourse in the fields of early Judaism and early Christianity is an increased awareness of the influence that the publication of unprovenanced material has on the illicit trade in antiquities. The primary concerns are that publications legitimize artifacts that are potentially looted, forged, or illegally imported, and that such material has the capacity to contaminate the academic corpus of ancient texts. As a consequence, a number of scholarly societies, most recently the Society of Biblical Literature, have enacted policies that reject any initial announcement, presentation, or publication of unprovenanced material in their venues. This article discusses an ethical issue not considered thoroughly under these policies: the ethics of publishing unprovenanced material following the initial publication. Though technically permitted, do subsequent publications help or harm? In order to explore this topic, this article utilizes as a case study the publication of DSS F.Instruction1, an unprovenanced fragment formerly published as part of 4Q416 that was reconsidered in a new edition.