The Museum of the Bible opened in November 2017 in Washington, D.C. Even then, some questioned whether its collection of 16 Dead Sea Scrolls were real versions of the religious texts.

Now, the museum admits that at least five of its scroll pieces are fake. A team of German researchers used technology to identify the false texts.

Jeffrey Kloha is the chief curator for the Museum of the Bible. In a statement, he said that the findings are a chance to educate the public on the importance of making sure that rare biblical objects are real. He added that the museum was committed to being honest about the situation.

What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The scrolls are a collection of ancient Jewish religious texts. They were first discovered in the 1940s near the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. The documents are believed to date back to the first century, near the time Jesus was alive, some say. Researchers believe the total collection includes more than 9,000 documents and 50,000 pieces.

Most of the scrolls and pieces are closely controlled by the Israeli AntiquitiesAuthority. But around 2002, new pieces began to appear on the market. Bible experts became concerned. They warned that these pieces were designed to appeal to American evangelical Christians.

That appears to be exactly what happened. One religious school in Texas and an evangelical college in California reportedly paid millions of dollars to buy what they thought were pieces of the scrolls.

The Green family also bought pieces of the scrolls. The Greens are wealthy evangelical Christians and the main financial supporter of the Museum of the Bible. In the years before the museum opened, the family bought many ancient objects.

Now it appears the Greens mistakenly bought some not-so-ancient objects, too. Associated Press reporter Ashraf Khalil called the situation “a massive case of archaeological fraud.”

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

curator (n.) /ˈkjurˌeɪtɚ/ - a person who is in charge of the things in a museum, zoo, etc.

fake (n.) /ˈfeɪk/ - a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people

  • Experts say that the antique painting is a fake.

antiquities [plural] - objects from ancient times

  • a museum of Roman antiquities

evangelical (adj.) /ˌiːˌvænˈʤɛlɪkəl/ - of or relating to a Christian sect or group that stresses the authority of the Bible, the importance of believing that Jesus Christ saved you personally from sin or hell, and the preaching of these beliefs to other people

  • She is an evangelical Christian.

fraud (n.) /ˈfrɑːd/ - the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person

  • He was found guilty of bank fraud.



Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

  1. When did the museum open?
  2. How many scrolls are fake?
  3. When were dead sea scrolls first found?
  4. How many documents and pieces there is?


Exercise 3


Please give your opinion on the following statement and give your reasons behind it.

  • Artefacts are prone to being forged, and so is religion


Exercise 4 


Have a discussion on following questions.

  1. Are artefacts important for religion?
  2. Do we need a church to guide our faith?
  3. Is church important in your country?



This lesson is based on a news article originally published by learningenglish.voanews.