- 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.