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Bar-Nathan and dating of Qumran cave pottery

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  • Greg Doudna
    David, thanks for acknowledging a lack of certainty on archaeological grounds that any scrolls were deposited in the Qumran caves later than 1st BCE, and
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 30, 2008
      David, thanks for acknowledging a lack of certainty
      on archaeological grounds that any scrolls were
      deposited in the Qumran caves later than 1st BCE,
      and beyond that, for your (reasonable, in my view)
      supposition that the vast bulk of the Qumran scroll
      deposits probably occurred BCE, not CE. Comments:

      (1) On the Copper Scroll, I presume it must be some
      form of argument from hypothetical scenario of hiding temple
      wealth at the time of the First Revolt (as opposed to
      hypothetical scenarios that could be imagined for
      earlier occasions) that indicates to you that that
      particular text was deposited significantly later
      than you suppose was the case for most of the other
      scrolls. I know of no archaeological grounds justifying
      singling out the Copper Scroll for this particular
      dating (you did not cite any).

      (2) On your proposal that the residents of Qumran
      deposited some scrolls actively in use at about the time
      of the First Revolt--or alternatively had some scrolls
      with them in active use in caves in which they
      were living at the time of flight or abandonment
      or death at that time--while that is conceivable,
      there are two factors weighing somewhat against
      this as I see it--beyond a lack of positive
      evidence for it. Namely:

      (a) there is an undisputed example of biblical texts
      in use at the time of the First Revolt: the biblical
      texts at Masada. Although the following point has been
      made and published by Talmon and Tov and
      is no secret to those who follow Talmon's and Tov's
      scholarship on the Dead Sea biblical texts, yet
      the point has not received sufficient attention,
      and Ian Young's 2002 Dead Sea Discoveries article
      on this point has been wholly ignored: the biblical
      texts at Masada are more closely like medieval MT
      than the biblical texts at Qumran, including more closely
      like medieval MT than the MT-class biblical texts at Qumran.
      The only way this makes sense as a non-chronological marker
      is the explanation assumed by Talmon and Tov, who assumed
      that the First Revolt Qumran text deposit construction
      was a given, a simple and uncontrovertible fact, around
      which any empirical data or findings must be interpreted:
      they assumed different types of people or different
      sects with different interests, at the two sites, owning the
      two differing descriptions of biblical manuscripts at exactly
      the same time. Young argued for interpreting the
      typologically earlier Qumran biblical mss similar
      to the way typologically earlier writing styles or
      typologically earlier pottery, etc. are commonly
      understood: as suggesting a chronologically earlier
      selection process for the biblical mss. at Qumran
      than reflected at First Revolt Masada.

      (b) among the texts found in the caves at Qumran,
      there is not a single unambiguous (that is, which
      most of today's scholars find convincing) allusion
      to even one 1st CE date, event,
      person, circumstance, ruler ... anything at all securely
      internally datable to the 1st CE. Argument from
      silence, but this is a rather strange dog not barking
      here.
      Contrast to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of allusions
      to 1st BCE, agreed by virtually all scholars, "common
      as dirt" among the so-called "sectarian" Qumran
      cave texts.
      (3) On your question of can I prove all scrolls were
      deposited BCE, in the time of Herod--no. But I can
      argue it. But this argument is not being heard because
      of a prior filtering perception that it is an archaeologically
      illegitimate argument, since the dating of most if not
      all of the Qumran text deposits to as late as
      1st CE/First Revolt is supposedly well established as a
      fact by archaeologists who all accept it, even though
      no archaeologist working with Qumran today seems willing
      to identify specific positive grounds for certainty that
      scrolls were deposited in Qumran caves that late.

      In any case thanks for your analyses.

      Greg Doudna
      Bellingham, Washington


      > The pottery found in the scroll caves seems to
      > cover the period from c. 31 BCE to 70 CE. I can
      > not 'prove' that they were deposited throughout
      > that period. Can you 'prove' that they were all
      > deposited in time of Herod?> My suppositions:- many of the scrolls represent
      > geniza deposits which unlikely to have been deposited
      > when site only seasonally occupied in Hasmonean
      > period. Most, particularly cave 4 etc, probably deposited> in time of Herod. Copper Scroll most likely deposited
      > at time of revolt together with some 'active' parchment
      > scrolls> Best I can do> David Stacey
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