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

Re: 4Q424

On Mon, 15 Apr 1996 HuldrychZ@aol.com wrote:

> A question concerning 4Q424, Sap. Work (c).
> The "rules" presented in the fragments seem to presuppose, as their
> addresses, those who live in the larger world (rather than in the secluded
> community ar Qumran).
> Is this evidence
> a) that works written outside Qumran were stored there
> b) that rules were written by the community for those who were members living
> outside the central community
> c) neither of the above
> d) or is there not enough evidence either way (is it inconclusive)
> Jim West, ThD
> Professor of Biblical Languages, CCBI
I think that it is reasonable to assume that not all of the members of 
whatever group the DSS represent lived at Qumran. There are numerous 
additional possibilities concerning this. This work may have been written 
by people living elsewhere for a community such as Qumran. It may have 
been written by someone living elsewhere for people living in Jerusalem 
or in other cities in the Levant.
     In general, I believe that the idea that Qumran was some sort of a 
community of monks is long dead and the perception that the contents of 
the scrolls necessarily refers to the inhabitants of Qumran alone must be 
seriously questioned. I cringed when I was watching the Learning Channel 
the other day and the guide was describing the Monks of Qumran. Though 
that thought may be laughable, we still cling to the ideas that such a 
theory mandated. Most notable among these necessities is that every word 
in every scroll was followed by everyone at Qumran. At the same time, we 
do not know, or at least can not conclusively prove, who wrote the 
scrolls or even who lived at Qumran. The archaeology, the scrolls 
themselves, and those who wrote about the Essenes are often more 
contradictory than opposing politicians during an election. There is a 
significant amount of evidence from the major texts of the DSS that 
marriage was a fundamental part of life for the DSS community and yet the 
theory that this was a celebate sect still circulates.
     I am not trying to be elitist when I say that it takes an enormous 
amount of knowledge to even guess at what the DSS texts and the site 
represent. I have been studying them and the languages necessary along 
with the numerous relevant histories of the time period (Josephus, Philo, 
Pliny, etc...) and still feel that I only possess a tenuous hold of the 
issues in the scrolls, much less KNOW what they are and were to those who 
wrote them and to those who interpreted them. There is, as in 
life in general, a great deal more to learn. Again, as in life, even as 
scholars, we are left asea, able only to put our faith in what we each 
perceive as the truth. Eisenman will see James at Qumran unless a text 
surfaced in the DSS that said the "Teacher is not James." Then he would 
argue that the existance of such a statement proved the opposite. 
Schiffman will see Sadducees. Many others will see Essenes.
     We are not arguing truths, but theories. There are many 
possibilities. The Dead Sea Scrolls are part of a vast incomplete puzzle. 
I have found that it is necessary to begin any conclusive statement about 
the scrolls with the words "It seems," "It appears," or "It could be 
that." If I could read the minds of long dead authors and KNOW beyond any 
doubt what they intended for those words to mean, I would be a very wealthy 
man indeed. I might even have my very own 900 number.

Just a few thoughts,