The contents and origin of the DSS have been the source of decades of speculation for conspiracy theorists (and scholars) who just really really really wanted to know what the Scrolls said. Despite the fact that virtually everything has finally been officially published, a few dedicated crackpots continue to comb through the contents for clues to support their crazy theories linking Christianity to the DSS sect.
Now those crazy crackpots can go ahead and learn ancient Hebrew and decipher the scrolls for themselves once the collection is put online for everyone to see. It is indeed a great day for dilettante Qumran specialists.
But seriously, this is part of a larger effort by the IAA to preserve the scrolls which are becoming increasingly difficult to read due to decades of handling, light exposure, and poor preservation techniques. Transparency of the contents and free access are side benefits of the greater goal - making such high quality images that the image can take the place of the original for scholarly access. Well done, IAA. Keep up the good work!
"This is the ultimate image of the scroll you can get get," explained IAA project manager Pnina Shor, as she showed reporters an example of the imaging. "It presents an authentic copy of the scroll, that once online, there is no need to expose the scrolls anymore."
"We have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivalled cultural heritage treasure, which belongs to all of us, so that the public, with a click of the mouse, will be able to access history in its fullest glamour," [IAA General Director Shuka] Dorfman said. (Via CNN)HT: Agade mailing list w/ link to ABC News.