Dead Sea Scrolls
Editor: I am writing out of concern about an Associated Press article in the Nov. 20 Sun relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The article gives the erroneous impression that Israel is responsible for withholding the scrolls from public scrutiny.
Many of your readers may not be familiar with the history of the scrolls. They were discovered in 1948, when the West Bank was occupied by Jordan, and were initially entrusted to a group of Christian and Muslim scholars. Thus for the first 20 years after their discovery, no Jewish scholars were part of the official research team, in spite of the fact that the scrolls are the work of a first century Jewish sect, and they were written in Aramaic, a language which is closely related to Hebrew and was the lingua franca of Judean Jews around the time of Jesus.
It was only in 1967, after Israel captured East Jerusalem, that Jewish scholars were allowed access to these extraordinary documents pertaining to their own history. Since that time, although the scrolls are officially in the custody of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, exclusive access continued to be in the hands of a small group of scholars, which now included Israelis, but predominately consisted of European and American Christian scholars. Indeed, it was the secretiveness of the latter group that led to the apparently unfounded speculation that the scrolls contained revelations that could shatter basic tenets of the Christian faith.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are an incredibly rich resource which have much to tell us about history and theology. For Christians they provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish roots of our faith. They have been far too long in being made available to scholars and students, and the recent breakthroughs should be a cause for rejoicing. But their inaccessibility has been caused by academic jealousy, not government policy.
Dale E. Balfour.
Editor: The state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore are now strangled by a combination of long-term commitments and huge operating costs and nobody has come forth with a solution short of cutting funds and laying off personnel, many of whom are essential to normal operations.
Let me tell you a story: I have a small manufacturing company. Five years ago we were in strikingly similar straits and it looked like we were going down the tubes. We decided to cut the overhead where we could. The principals in the company took a one-third cut in salaries and the other employees took a 20 percent cut.
This saved our company. Instead of failing, we are still operating. And as we climb back to profitability, we look forward to gradually restoring the wage cuts, starting with the workers. And we didn't have to lay off a single person.
Isn't the parallel obvious? The chiefs in the state and city governments -- the executives, the department heads and the legislature must take a major reduction in their fantastically bloated salaries. A one-third cut from, say, $100,000 to $67,000, would scarcely bring hardship to anyone. And a 20 percent cut for the lower-grade employees would only bring them into line with industry, even forgetting their very substantial perks.
Would not such a move both eradicate our current deficit and eliminate layoffs and the reduction of essential services? It would. But this seems unlikely to happen because we are now finally beginning to realize that our elected officials and their bureaucracies are not at allservants of the public but of themselves alone.
December the 7th
Editor: Dec. 7 will be the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor -- ''a date which will live in infamy.'' The cost of the conflict that ensued will never be determined. Except for a few ''paper balloon incendiary devices'' launched from Japan and landing on our West Coast, and a few shells from German submarines landing on our East Coast, the ''contiguous 48 states'' went unscathed.
The homes of America, however, were torn asunder by ''greetings'' from the Selective Service System and by ''we regret to inform you'' telegrams from the War and Navy departments. A generation that had been raised in the Great Depression matured in the crucible of World War II.
As those who lived through the years of sacrifice and uncertainty pass into oblivion, December the 7th will become just another date on the calendar. To those who yet survive, it is a day to remember -- to remember the men and women who did what was asked of them.
J. Bernard Hihn.
In the Middle