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Re: DSS Course
From my reading of the DSS and the secondary literature, it seems to me,
at least, that at least three possibilities exist.
1. Just read the texts and talk about their contents. I'm working right now on
the 4QHodayot texts and it's not particularly important for what I'm doing to
find a specific author or specific historical context for this material (though
attributing them to the Teacher of Righteousness does certainly have some
2. You can talk about all the theories and look at each issue from the
3. You can state up front that there are various opinions, here's yours, and
follow through on that. Isn't that what we mostly have to do in the
Humanities anyway? We look at the data, read the sec. literature and
form a conclusion. Since we can't go back to Qumran 2000 yrs ago, there aren't
a lot of other choices.
It does seem to me, however, that there is a majority opinion that there
was a community at Qumran with Essene roots, and if you take that position,
it may not have great certainty behind it, but it does have several significant
researchers in the DSS in favor of it, so at least you wouldn't be
going out on a limb by takiing that position. I'm personally somewhat
inclined toward Schiffman's view of a Sadducean basis for a community whcih
wrote or collected the DSS at Qumran. What seems to me more significant, however,
is not where did they come from, but what do they represent within Intertestamental
Judaism. An isolated group? A major stream of early Jewish thought?
It seems to me that this question is very important because if the
Qumran community just hid out in the desert and its ideas are not part of
Judaism outside of Qumran, then who they or what the DSS say is in large part
irrelevant to studying 2nd Temple Judaism.