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

one thousand scribes

Up to now I've been reluctant to commit myself to any particular 
historicising scenario, for the reason that I think scholars did so 
all too readily back in the 50s, and once such a scenario is in place 
all subsequent data is at its mercy, instead of being allowed to 
suggest its own interpretation. In general, I think we ought always 
to envision several different options; this would reduce dogmatism 
about the understanding of the data.
In this case, though, I will go along with Greg on at least one 
issue, namely the fact that the documentation provides abundant 
evidence of production by a large number of scribal hands. This 
could, as some have suggested, be the result of long inhabitation of 
the "complex" with a century or more of scroll production. But this 
theory would not, as I have pointed out, account for the following:
there are at least two *orthographical systems* represented, i.e., 
Qumran Hebrew orthography and Biblical Hebrew Orthography; moreover, 
there are at least *three* Hebrews represented, namely Biblical 
Hebrew, Qumran Hebrew and Proto-Middle (which some call Mishnaic, but 
it's a misnomer, as it recurs in the Copper Scroll and in 4QMMT) 
Hebrew, at least two Aramaics (the Biblical Aramaic of Daniel is not 
the same as the Late Aramaic of the Genesis Apocryphon, and neither 
is identical with that of Tobit and Enoch; for that matter, the 
Aramaic orthographies show considerable diversity as well), plus 
So much linguistic and orthographic diversity demands the assumption 
that the documents came from multiple sources, and it makes nonsense 
of the assumption that a small, closely-knit quasi-monastic 
environment produced it all.
As for Greg's assumption that all the documents were deposited at the 
same time, well, this needn't have been the case. The apparent 
chronological spread of the age of the documents could be as much as 
200 years or more, and I don't think people continued to use animal-
skin documents in a desert environment that long, owing to cracking 
and drying of the medium. Of course, this is a supposition that would 
require some empirical investigation; but it might suggest that the 
deposition of the documents took place over a long period of time, 
for whatever reason.

Fred Cryer
Univ. of Copenhagen