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Re: Qumran question (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 19:37:32 EST
From: David W. Suter <dsuter@catadon.stmartin.edu>
To: Multiple recipients of list <ioudaios-l@lehigh.edu>
Subject: Re: Qumran question

On Tue, 5 Mar 1996, Ian Hutchesson wrote:

> This naturally presupposes that there was such a community. The texts don't
> necessarily indicate a single community. Is it more than serendipity that
> the texts happen to have been found near the complex known as Khirbet Qumran
> whose purpose it seems is far from clear? If not, there is no evidence for a
> single community. The many hands involved in copying the texts would suggest
> a lot of (perhaps) people at our complex being scribes. 

There are other possibilities that your either/or overlooks.  The "many 
hands" may well suggest that the scrolls were not produced at one site, 
but does not necessarily rule out the possibility that they were 
collected and used there.  How probable that option is may be hard to 
say, but it seems to me that this question tends to generate either/or 

> Don't you think it was strange to find a copy of the Damascus Document in
> the Cairo geniza, if the document was of an obscure sect that didn't survive
> the first Jewish war?

Not necessarily if the book was in use elsewhere (Enoch survived and 
continued to grow in other channels).  The suggestion has been made that 
the Karaites preserved a manuscript from an earlier find along the shore 
of the Dead Sea.  How likely that explanation is could be a matter of 
debate, but in some way or the other a copy of what seems to be a sectarian 
document from the time of the Second Temple has survived in a Karaite 
geniza in Cairo.  By asking the question of the relation between the 
scrolls and the ruins, I think you are raising an issue that is on the 
minds of many of us at the moment, but in attempting to answer it, I 
think we need to avoid either/or thinking.

David Suter
Saint Martin's College