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Re: 1000 scribes, calendar

Fred Cryer has made excellent observations on the 
almost infinite elasticity of the Essene hypothesis.
Whatever material data is encountered becomes one
more feature of the sectarian "Essenes"--which does 
not need to be related to known history because, after 
all, sectarians are sectarians--different and marginal 
and unrepresentative.  Construction is built upon 
construction in a vacuum of actual evidence, and lack of 
evidential falsification in this vacuum becomes 
misinterpreted as corroboration of truthfulness.

Stephen Goranson takes me to task for suggesting that
an empirical phenomenon--some 850 texts, approximately,
of which almost none were written by the same scribes
(3 exceptions noted and Abegg added maybe 3 to 6 more)--
conflicted with the notion of a community writing texts
for itself.

"The suggestions or invitations to . . . "Let us get OUT
of our heads this notion of a community writing its own
texts" seems to me not among Greg D.'s more useful 

I am willing to accept any blame for faults in the
argument but the contribution, as has been noted, was
Golb's, and it is a useful one.  A worthwhile discussion
on these matters is found in Michael
Wise, "Accidents and Accidence: A Scribal View of Linguistic
Dating of the Aramatic Scrolls from Qumran", pp. 103-151 in
Wise, _Thunder in Gemini_, 1994.  In this article Wise
discusses the DSS in relationship to "the book culture in
late Second Temple Palestine".  Wise made the point:

    "The only way to reconcile the extraordinary number of
    hands with scribal production at Qumran is to argue that
    the community consisted almost exclusively of scribes.
    Then, somehow, one must explain why the vast majority
    of these scribes limited themselves to a single (often
    _parvum_) opus.  The resulting picture is so absurd that
    it simply cannot be right . . ."
But never underestimate the infinite elasticity of a theory
to generate ad hoc explanations (as Fred, who reads
Popper on the side, has expressed more eloquently).  Here is 
Goranson's harmonization.  Catch this logic carefully--

    "The numbers of extant Qumran mss and the numbers given
    for Essenes--more than 4000 and myriads--are not
It is not clear whether Goranson is buying into Robert
Kraft's earlier suggestion of a mechanism by which one, 
but not more than one, text per generic Essene scribe 
is to be explained.  (While not finding Kraft's suggestion 
convincing, it at least was an honest attempt to propose something 
reasonable.)  One gets the impression that Goranson 
considers the greater number of Essenes than texts in 
the DSS to be somehow sufficient explanation in itself 
to preserve the a priori.  

Wise also pointed out that "no two texts demonstrably share
an immediate prototype; neither did any ms give rise to
identifiable daughter copies".  In a footnote Wise acknowledges 
as a possible exception a suggestion from Ulrich that 4QDan(b) 
was copied from 4QDan(a).  But Wise notes the point remains:
"one would expect _significant_ evidence of internal copying
and recopying in a small scribal community".  This is
important stuff; points like this should not be simply
ignored or dismissed.         

In this article Wise also discusses the prevalence 
of copying manuscripts by private parties as well as purchases of
copies on the book market.  In particular, Wise notes
that cursive or semicursive hands on papyrus may be a marker of 
private copies, and discusses several Cave 6 papyrus texts in
this regard.  If this analysis is correct, the existence of 
privately copied texts on cheap material (i.e. papyrus) by non-
scribes among the larger number of professionally-prepared mss in 
formal hands on expensive material (i.e. animal skin) is something 
which must also be factored into any comprehensive interpretation.  

On different subjects, thanks to Uwe Glessmer for discussing
4QS(e).  I see that Martinez also presents the 4Q318 Otot text
as part of 4QS(e) in his English DSS translation, in line with
what you, Martin, and others have worked out.  Several comments
have been made on the distinctive calendar in the DSS as evidence
of distance or difference from 
the Temple.  To this I must respond with a question:
the assumption of difference from the Temple implies knowledge of
the calendar in operation in the Temple.  On what grounds is
there knowledge of this nature for the first century BCE (which is 
the most probable dating of most of the relevant texts at issue)?  
How can anyone be certain what religious calendars were in use 
throughout the entire 1st BCE, in the absence of any direct 
evidence, such that it can be assumed that the Qumran texts are 
necessarily different?  The Qumran texts do seem to attest 
indirectly that the calendar was disputed.  But it is not as if 
there are dated texts from the 1st BCE, signed by say a high priest, 
giving a lunar date for festival celebration.  So in the complete 
absence of 1st BCE evidence, where is the base point of reference by 
which to say the Qumran calendar texts are different than "known" 
1st BCE temple practice?  

Greg Doudna