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DSS dating

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  • goranson
    Tom Simms wrote that the Qumran manuscripts were deposited in the caves at the time of the arrival of Pompey (63 BCE). In my opinion, this idea is mistaken,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2000
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      Tom Simms wrote that the Qumran manuscripts were deposited in the caves at
      the time of the arrival of Pompey (63 BCE).

      In my opinion, this idea is mistaken, and has been shown to be mistaken on
      other lists, including orion and ane. I hope another long exchange on it
      will not be necessary here. Anyone interested can read the archives of
      those lists as well as the latest two issues of Qumran Chronicle, for the
      pros and cons.

      But, writing from memory here, but I think I recall correctly, here are a
      few brief comments.

      Of the 19 Qumran mss tested for C14 at two experienced lads, reported at
      2-sigma probability (=95%): One date range was totally before, earlier
      than, 63 BCE, 5 date ranges were totally later than 63 BCE. The 13 others
      ranged both before and after 63 BCE, in differing amounts. So simple
      probability indicates that certainly some of the test results represent
      dates after 63 BCE, probably more than half of the scrolls tested being
      after 63 BCE.

      Now it has been suggested that contamination of the scrolls, though they
      were carefully cleaned and examined before testing, will be discovered and
      that such proposed contamination, specifically, will invalidate any and all
      post-63 BCE dates. But no data has been presented to demonstrate that. If
      more data becomes available, of course, it should be taken into account.
      But to merely declare that it will come and that it will happen precisely
      to show an end abruptly at 63 BCE (when, by the way scroll-production of
      those deposited and extant need not have ended abruptly at its height,
      anyway) is nothing other than wishful thinking. And C14 testing presently
      is not capable of indicating any single-year end date.

      There are further reasons, beyond C14, to exclude such an early deposit
      date. For instance, pottery, including the later dating of "scroll jars."
      And the archaeology of the site, which does not show 63 as a major break.
      Also, by now, in my opinion, it has been shown that Pliny used a written
      source to report on Essenes by the Dead Sea. This source was Marcus V.
      Agrippa, Pliny's main source for that section of Pliny's encyclopedic
      collection. M. Agrippa, governor of Syria, visited Herod the Great in
      Judaea. He made a world map and wrote a commentary on it and other works,
      and he reported back to Augustus. This dates presence of Essenes at Qumran
      circa 15 BCE, at a time when Ein Gedi was still destroyed from the circa 40
      BCE fighting. The Ein Gedi site of Yizhar Hirschfeld, though quite
      interesting, is both too small and too late to be the site of the Essene
      settlement mentioned by Pliny's source, and by Dio and Solinus.

      That some of the Qumran mss are Essene--including, e.g., the pesharim and
      serek hayahad--is shown in several ways, including the initiation
      description and the use of the self-designation 'osey hatorah, observers of
      torah, which is the Hebrew precursor of Greek
      Essaioi/Essenoi/Ossenoi/Ossaioi, in English Essenes.

      There are plently of questions still to be answered by further research,
      but that Essenes lived at Qumran and elsewhere, including after 63 BCE, and
      that they assembled a text collection, some of which Essenes wrote and/or
      copied, including after 63 BCE, is, I suggest, what the evidence shows.

      best wishes,

      Stephen Goranson
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