RE: [textualcriticism] Vanderkam finds Arabic numbers on Isaiah scroll
The subject line on this thread is probably quite misleading. A careful reading of the quote from Vanderkam does not say that he agrees with the thesis presented in the Kansas City Star article. I do not have firsthand knowledge of Jim’s views, but unless he wants to lend his support to the thesis it should be made clear that he is not expressing his agreement.
Some of us have spent long hours on the phone with the author(s) only to find that our opinions are clearly misrepresented in their publications. Incidentally, the hypothesis regarding medieval markings has been put forward by them in the popular press for many years now, although the Arabic numerals notion is relatively recent. The academic community has carefully considered these scribal anomalies and has offered plausible evidence for their early occurrence. To my knowledge Altman and Crowder have yet to offer any response to these arguments.
Harold P. Scanlin
41 Waldheim Park
Allentown, PA 18103
> > http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/Vanderkam.pdfcareful
> The subject line on this thread is probably quite misleading. A
> reading of the quote from Vanderkam does not say that he agreesThe article states:
> with the thesis presented in the Kansas City Star article.
"he was startled recently when he noticed what appeared to be the Arabic
numerals "3" and "2" written between lines and in the margins of the
documents supposedly written more than 2,000 years ago."When could that
have been put on there?" the veteran scholar wondered ..."
If the article is not misrepresenting VanderKam's views, then he
apparently thinks that there are Arabic numerals. What really struck me
was that I immediately thought, "no, that's nothing, just scribble or
blots", but that he, respected scholar VanderKam thinks otherwise.
Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
- J. VanderKam replied to me:
"I of course think that Altman's
views are nonsense, and I did not say what I am apparently quoted as
saying. I did say to Altman that some marks to which he directed my
attention resemble Arabic numerals but I added that this resemblance
did not mean they were in fact Arabic numerals and that the only way
to check would be to look at the manuscript itself, not just at
photographs. I firmly believe that the Isaiah scroll dates from ca.
Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
- I've posted another response from VanderKam, saying essentially the
same thing with a little additional information, plus some of my own
analysis of what Altman and Crowder did and how it shows the
irresponsibility of the media. All here:
On Monday, June 14, 2004, at 05:59 pm, Wieland Willker wrote:
> J. VanderKam replied to me:
> "I of course think that Altman's
> views are nonsense, and I did not say what I am apparently quoted as
> saying. I did say to Altman that some marks to which he directed my
> attention resemble Arabic numerals but I added that this resemblance
> did not mean they were in fact Arabic numerals and that the only way
> to check would be to look at the manuscript itself, not just at
> photographs. I firmly believe that the Isaiah scroll dates from ca.
> 100 BCE."
> Best wishes
> Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
> Textcritical commentary:
> Yahoo! Groups Links
Dr. Jim Davila
Lecturer in Early Jewish Studies
St. Mary's College
University of St. Andrews
- Forgive me if this has already been mentioned, but I seem to remember
reading this same article or something very similar in the Dallas
Morning News a year or so ago.
If my link below works, one can find the article I believe I read
online at the Dallas Morning News website. Unfortunately, one must
register and pay a small fee to read the article. If the link does
not work, the information from a search on their website states the
> Headline: Symbols raise doubts about scrolls' ageDallas Morning News: http://www.dallasnews.com/
> Relevance: 24
> Writer: NEIL ALTMAN, DAVID CROWDER
> Published: May 11, 2002
> Page Number: 4G
> Word Count: 867
> Edition: SECOND
> Summary: Scattered through some Dead Sea Scrolls are Western
> letters and numbers that are causing some scholars to
> rethink the assumption that the scrolls were written
> before Christian times.
> "It creates suspicion when you see Western letters and
> numbers on manuscripts attributed to a Jewish sect that
> existed before the birth of Christ," Peter Pick, former
> dean of Arts and Sciences at California's Columbia Pacific
> University, said after looking at anomalies such as a....
I suppose that I rolled my eyes when I read it, thinking there could
be any number of reasonable explanations for the arabic (or seeming
arabic) numerals and other signs. However, if this is not just
another attempt to discredit ancient artifacts, more scholarly
analysis would be intriguing.
By the way, Wieland, I am glad to see this website pick up where the
TC-List left off. As a hobbyist, I am glad for an interactive place
to come, read, share, and ask questions about one of my favorite
subjects, textual criticism. Thanks for beginning this list.
--- In email@example.com, "Wieland Willker"
> The article appeared in the "Kansas City Star", Sat, Jun. 12, 2004
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Bryan Cox" <b_coxus@y...>
> Dallas Morning News: http://www.dallasnews.com/As a complete amateur, may I offer a thought at a tangent? I
> I suppose that I rolled my eyes when I read it, thinking
> there could
> be any number of reasonable explanations for the arabic (or seeming
> arabic) numerals and other signs. However, if this is not just
> another attempt to discredit ancient artifacts, more scholarly
> analysis would be intriguing.
recognise that it is irritating when urban legends get started in
this way. But can we not make something of it? After all,
somewhere in all this is the raw human desire to learn, directed at
ancient manuscripts. I would like to see the study of ancient and
medieval manuscripts have a much higher profile than it does, and be
much better funded. They say there is no such thing as bad
publicity, after all.
Rather than us grumbling about the bad reportage, would someone with
lots of letters after his name like to write to this journal?
Compliment them on their interest in the topic of the study of the
scrolls, express hope that they will run more articles, refer to
interest in manuscripts in pop-culture (think of Buffy, Charmed),
and suggest that some more stuff would be nice. Mention, in a non-
combative way, that in fact the 'numbers' are probably just tricks
of the photographic process; but that more eyes looking can only be
a good thing.
I know we risk a rush of cranks -- but so what? So long as we don't
look like a bunch of jerks determined to exclude the public, any
publicity would be good. Wouldn't it?
All the best,