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Wall Street Journal/Golb Qumran misinformation

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  • goranson@duke.edu
    A Wall Street Journal Opinion piece by Jordana Horn borrows its title from that of Norman Golb s book, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? Golb claims that all
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2008
      A Wall Street Journal Opinion piece by Jordana Horn borrows its title from that
      of Norman Golb's book, "Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?" Golb claims that all
      the Qumran mss came, suddenly, from Jerusalem. Golb has not yet provided
      evidence sufficient to prove this claim, nor to address adequately
      counterindications, but he goes on to make further bold assertions.

      Golb reportedly said of all Scroll exhibits in the US: "I think all of them
      have been in the nature of efforts to brainwash the public about the
      significance of the scrolls." Well, I attended the exhibit in Raleigh two days
      ago. That exhibit bent over backwards--in other words, if anything, given some
      weak proposals, excessively--to present a variety of views. The article states
      that "there are two competing theories about the scrolls"--a big
      oversimplification. The scrolls have been vigorously debated for six decades.

      The Raleigh exhibit, e.g., quotes, in large type, prominently on the wall, Yuval
      Peleg: "It was the most important thing ever found at Qumran: the bottom of the
      pool has some three tons of high quality clay. We started to understand
      the site--there were no Essenes." One could question whether clay (of
      scientifically-untested quality and debatable date of entry) was really a more
      important find than 900 to a thousand ancient scroll remains. One could
      question whether presence of clay logically leads to absence of Essenes. But
      one would not rationally claim that the exhibit was a case of brainwashing.

      The article claims of de Vaux that "After reading the scrolls, he announced with
      pride that they had been authored by an Essene sect and asserted that the sect
      was the forebear of his own Dominican movement." Oh, when and where was such an
      putative announcement? Let's quote, not myth and hearsay, but de Vaux in NTS
      1966 (p. 99 n.1 [cf RB 1966 p.229]) review of G. R. Driver's Scrolls
      zealot-theory book: "...Driver often speaks of the 'monastery' of Qumran: thus
      in 'quotes'. I am keeping the 'quotes', because I have never used the word when
      when writing about the excavations of Qumran...."

      De Vaux concluded an Essene connection after some excavation and communal
      evidence; he was actually a relative late-commer to the Essene identity, years
      after Sukenik, after Sowmy, after Brownlee, after Dupont-Sommer and others. In
      RB 1959 p, 300 he cautioned *against* Bagatti's view that Dominus Flevit
      ossuary inscriptions were Christian. Most Christian historians think Christian
      monasticism started later, though scholarly discussion would need to include
      debates about Eusebius' comments on Philo's De Vita Contemplativa, which
      includes the two earliest known uses of the Greek word monasterion 25, 30).

      Golb has misrepresented the history of scholarship on scrolls and the scrolls
      themselves, many, e.g., according to Ada Yardeni, written by a single sectarian
      scribe. Golb, and a many-named related online sockpuppet, offered scroll

      Stephen Goranson
      For evidence of Qumran-Essene association:

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