[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Walls not a fortress make

In reply to David's remarks below:

Actually, few scholars think that the Romans did any hacking of the scrolls
that have been found.  Not even those in cave four.  The difference in
preservation between the scrolls in cave 4 and those in, say, cave 1
derives from the fact that the scrolls in cave 1 were stored in jars, while
those in cave 4 were not.  Therefore the cave 4 scrolls were exposed to the
elements and to the animals (some scraps even have teeth marks on them).
The fragmentary nature of these finds were due to deteriation and
decomposition over nearly 2 millenia, not some destructive antics in

If you look at the photographs of the fragments, you will see very few
straight edges (which would be expected if they had been hacked by a
sword).  Instead, the edges are all the different shapes nature creates
through decomposition (and which can be explained by fractal math).

We forget that few organic materials (such as papyrus or leather) last very
long under natural conditions. I remember a story Geza Vermes told me when
I was starting my graduate career.  When he was a graduate student in the
late forties, it was a scholarly axiom that no manuscript material could
have been preserved from the time of Jesus.  When the scroll finds were
announced, most scholars initially refused to believe the reports were true
because they simply did not think it was possible.  Given this expectation,
the fragmentary nature of the scrolls from cave 4 are remarkably well

>On Wed, 3 Apr 1996, Paul V. M. Flesher wrote:
>> >David K.
>> What is the evidence for Romans destroying manuscripts at Qumran?  The fact
>> of deterioration?  After 2000 years, that is not evidence of anything but
>> natural decomposition.
>> Paul
>I was under the impression that the Roman mutilation theory was based
>upon the scrolls in cave four being in small shredded pieces. I thought
>that the accepted theory for this was that the Romans hacked up the
>scrolls that they found there. If this is an incorrect description of the
>scrolls found in cave four, then there would appear to be even less
>evidence for Romans destroying scrolls.

Paul V. M. Flesher
Religious Studies
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY  82071-3353