At 90-years-old, Bernard Miller just may be one of the oldest atheist authors in the Philadelphia area. His new book, Withheld: A Dead Sea Scroll Mystery, is a fact-based fiction that was allegedly too controversial for mainstream publishers. The following is an e-mail interview I did with Miller about his book:
You clearly have something you want to get out there, so why did you decide to write a book that is “fact-based fiction” rather than a book that is purely non-fiction?
“I could not write a 100% non-fiction book on this subject because we never got the full documentation of what really took place during that fateful First Century. The Dead Sea Scrolls were written by men who were there. The Scrolls were supposed to tell us what really happened. We’re still holding our breath for release of all the Scrolls and the secrets they contain.
I couldn’t use the New Testament for reference because all four conflicting versions were written long after Jesus died. These were written by any number of men—all of whom never witnessed anything first hand. The tales they recorded were the product of many years of re-telling by people who were ignorant, superstitious and gullible.
About 60% of what I wrote is based on documented fact. Anyone can do the research and get this information.
I researched ancient Hebrew commentaries that dispute most of the preposterous things the creative writers of the New Testament say about Jesus and his miracles, his “holy” family, his conversion, his resurrection and the unworldly impregnation of that 14-year-old Jewish gal named Mary by a celestial bolt of semen.
To tell this story I created fictional characters, incidents and dates. I changed the name of the real villain who deliberately withheld certain Dead Sea Scrolls. His real name was John Strugnell, now deceased. I call him John Hellweig. I use the testimony of credible witnesses who described Strugnell as a rabid anti-Semite and a fall down drunk.”
What aspects of the book are non-fiction?
“Here are but a few:
The Scrolls were discovered by an Arab shepherd when he followed a wayward sheep into one of the caves above the Dead Sea. The year was 1947.
There was no state of Israel in 1947.
Countless ancient Hebrew Scrolls went directly into the Rockefeller Museum in Jordan. They became the exclusive property of a secretive Scroll Examining Committee composed entirely of Catholics and Protestants.
For decades The New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, the Philadelphia Inquirer and many other media worldwide accused this Scroll Examining Committee of withholding both Scrolls and translations.
The secretive Scroll committee admitted they “lost” ten fragments.
Jesus’ imitators preceded him. Research shows that most of what has been attributed to Jesus in the New Testament was lifted whole from the mythologies of far earlier civilizations. They were adjusted and massaged to fit the new time.
I list 30 absurdities Jesus shared with one of the earlier messiah claimants.
There were a number of First Century “messiahs.”
Jesus was born and died a Jew.
Oxford Professor John Allegro, really was a senior member of the Scroll Examining Committee. He told the press that Scroll data was being withheld because the facts were damaging to Christianity.
The story of the very special Copper Scroll is also true. This Scroll was translated by Professor Allegro who released its content. It reported how the ancient Israeli treasury was buried as the Romans invaded. The ongoing hunt for this treasury is factual. My disclosure of where it still lies buried is only speculative.
The historical information I offer is accurate to the best of my ability."
Do you know what parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls were actually withheld?
“When Professor John Allegro went public and told us that Scrolls were being withheld, he only said their revelations were damaging to Christianity. He did not say what it was that was so damaging. Here again I used ancient Hebrew commentary on this subject as though this told us specifically what was withheld.
We do not know if that damaging data has since been destroyed or is now locked deep in the vaults of the Vatican. No outsider has ever been permitted to see or read even a single Scroll withheld at the Rockefeller.
At first the secretive committee said they had 500 scrolls. Then 800. Later 850. No one has ever been able to determine whether the real figure might be 1000 or more Dead Sea Scrolls.”
What books influenced you most when you wrote this book?
“The New Testament. I can only hope that my story helps debunk the New Testament’s fiction; especially the anti-Semitic venom that continues to poison the minds of each new generation of Christians worldwide.”
How can readers contact you if they have any questions about the book?
“Queries welcome. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org”