“We are very pleased to inform you,” the letter began, “that you are cordially invited to attend the Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, organized by the Universidad Complutense, through its Department of Hebrew and Aramaic (Faculty of Philology). The Congress will be held in El Escorial (Madrid) from Monday 18th to Thursday 21st March, 1991.
“The purpose of the Congress,” the letter went on, “will be to offer the DSS [Dead Sea Scrolls] scholars an academic forum for the presentation of their current investigation and for the discussion of the new perspectives these texts open for the study of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages; the history of the Biblical text; and the history and literature of Judaism and early Christianity.”
There was to be a press conference in connection with the congress, but the letter to BAR’s editor continued, “Through your participation in the sessions you will have a more direct access to the work done in the Congress and you will be able to give a well documented projection of the Congress towards the interested public.”
Then barely a week before the congress, an express mail letter arrived from Spain, disinviting us: “We kindly ask you to limit your presence to the press conference,” as if we would go all the way to Madrid for a press conference.
The letter gave this reason for the disinvitation: “We are sure that you will understand the convenience of preserving the open, free and candid climate of the academic discussion.”