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RE: 1000 scribes, calendar
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Greg Doudna
Sent: Tuesday, November 12, 1996 1:48 PM
Subject: Re: 1000 scribes, calendar
>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?
Your above points are well taken, however I would like to counter. By the
'base points of reference' to which you refer, I will take a leap and _assume_
that you do not mean 'direct evidence', which of course I cannot offer. I can
offer the following as base points of reference, though:
1) If you would allow the calendrical exposition (which I realize is still
disputed by many, but is still supported by many also) to be included as part
of 4QMMT, you would have another plausible text, this one quite possibly from
the 'sect' to the Temple, advocating the solar calendar over an 'unknown'
2) Wise, Abegg and Cook propose an interesting and logical scenario relating
to the Hab Commentary and the pursuit of the Teacher of Righeousness by the
Wicked Priest on the Day of Atonement. Grasping entirely at straws, and
allowing me the latitude to consider the WP as a Temple priest (which is still
supported by some), based on what we now understand about 2nd Temple Judaism
it would be unlikely that a Temple functionary, much less a Temple priest
would be away from the Temple pursuing exiles on that holy day. This would,
however be explained if the two were adhering to different calendars. Even if
you do not subscribe to the WP=Temple functionary theory, an obvious question
would be: what Jew would be pursuing the RT on this holy day? Conclusive??
3. The (Arab??) historian Albiruni refers to an ancient 'sect' of Jews that
followed a different lunar calendar (one that began with a full moon) than the
lunar calendar followed by mainstream Judaism (forgive the paraphrasing as I
cannot quickly locate a firm reference for this item, but I am sure that you
have heard this before. Wise, Abegg, and Cook also briefly mention this).
This of course is not the equivelent of a 'dated text from the 1st BCE signed
by a high priest', but it does move us closer to the era in question.
I realize none of the above is conclusive on its own merits. But in the
absence of direct evidence (which if available for questions like these, would
render this list obsolete!), it is sometimes part of the procedure to look at
several different points in context of a whole picture, which slowly begins to
emerge. I think your discrediting the theory of document uniformity soley on
the premise that we do not have direct evidence of the calendar in use at the
Temple during the scroll writer's era, requires it's own fair share of
'elasticity'. The scrolls do infer a calendar dispute between two (or
possible more) relevant parties of the era. I think I am safe to say that
generally speaking,most scholars believe (from probably more substantial
evidence than I provide) that the Temple adhered to the traditional (or one
very much like it) lunar calendar. However, again, your point is well taken,
as there is no direct evidence of the calendar in use at the Temple at that
time. I look forward to your thoughts!