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RE: One Thousand Scribes

From: 	owner-orion@pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il on behalf of Greg Doudna
Sent: 	Friday, November 08, 1996 5:12 AM
To: 	orion@pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il
Subject: 	Re: One Thousand Scribes

Greg writes >: let us get OUT of
>our heads this notion of a community _writing its own texts_,
>whether at Qumran or anywhere else.  That is not what the
>material evidence of these many scribes and so few duplicate
>works indicates!  What is in evidence is the remains of a 
>collection, a library, in which texts were
>purchased or obtained from other sources. 

I agree that the number of different scribal handwritings is more plausibly 
explained by a collection or library rather than as a result of the long 
inhabitation of the 'complex'.  However, I am not so quickly to dismiss the 
'notion of a community' in the sense that there is significant evidence that 
would support the notion that although the texts were not all written by 
members of 'the sect', the texts may have been "preserved" or collected by 
this sect (and even possibly at some point hidden or stashed by the sect).  
Josephus Wars 2.8.142 tells us that the newest member of the Essenes is 
required to swear to "equally preserve the books belonging to their sect".  If 
the Essenes were chartered to preserve these books, the writings that they did 
preserve might not have been written by the sect, but may have simply been 
texts that comformed substantially to their own beliefs/philosophy/politics.  
Of course they would have written their own sectarian texts with rules and 
regulations of the community.  They might even preserve some of the early 
charters with rules and regs that had sinced changed (marrying & non-marrying 
Essenes??).  The noteable absense of any texts advocating the traditional 
Jewish Lunar calendar over the 360 day solar calendar that appears to be 
supported consistently throughout the corpus lends weight to the notion of a 
community's efforts to preserve a certain, select (for lack of a better word!) 
'canon' of writings.  The above mentioned calendar anomaly (amongst other 
things) tends to distance the collection from the Temple. 

Best Regards,

Vernon Chadwick,
Charlotte, NC