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Re: Calendar, MMT

Vernon Chadwick offered three reasonable arguments
in favor of the existence of 2nd-1st BCE Temple lunar 
calendar practice as opposed to the Qumran solar 
calendar, which then becomes "sectarian".  I 
would like to examine these arguments.  (a) later, 
e.g. Karaite, traditions refer to echoes 
of earlier calendar disputes.  (But this does not inform, 
directly, of who was in control in the 2nd-1st BCE--only 
that there were memories of disputes.)  

(b) pHab 11.4-8 refers to a Wicked Priest pursuing 
the T of R to his house of exile...on the day of 
Atonement.  Agreed that the "wicked priest" is a 
high priest (among other things, the pun HKHN HRS' 
on HKHN HR'S supports that).  Since
a high priest or any temple official would be in
the temple on the Day of Atonement, this passage
despite its cryptic references looks like
a two-calendar system--with by implication the
"wrong" lunar calendar associated with the WP/Jerusalem.
(None of this is original--it goes back to Talmon long
ago, if not earlier.)  But--this is one 
incident.  If this WP is one of the "wicked" hp's
collaborating with Antiochus IV and his ilk of later
memory, say Menalaus (as good a candidate for the 
pHab WP as any), then we're looking at some oblique 
retroactive glimpse of a moment in the 160's or late 
170's BCE.  At most this says something about one
period--the Hellenistic crisis period reflected in Daniel
if the analysis and dating here is correct.  What then 
does the pHab glimpse provide as evidence about calendar 
practice in the temple after the Maccabean
victory--the second half of the 2nd BCE or the entire
1st BCE, with the many political upheavals and shifts
in these centuries?  Probably nothing at all.

(c) Vernon's third point seems to be the most important
one: MMT may have the solar calendar and is written "quite 
possibly from the 'sect' to the Temple, advocating the solar 

Fifty times I have read MMT and followed the basic
interpretation that MMT reflects an outsider group in some 
sense lobbying someone in power, in contrast to a "they"
group who are running the Temple.  But Vernon's point led me
to reexamine and reread MMT and question these assumptions in
a 51st reading last night.  Running the risk of having my 
head chopped off, let me propose to the list a wholly
different interpretation or reading of MMT.   

MMT is not written by outsiders but by a group in power,
in control of the temple, _in Jerusalem_, at its time of
composition.  Look at how the text begins--its authoritative 
voice and wording: "These are our rulings"... Throughout the 
text: "We say...", Then, "we have written to you some of the 
precepts of the law..."  What is the evidence that the 
authors of MMT are sectarians
or dispossessed from power?  It seems all to devolve from
4Q397 C7 (Q and S numbering): "we separated from the multitude
of the people" (PRSNW MRWB H'M).  Qimron and Strugnell 
(hereafter Q and S) interpret this as a separation from "the
multitude of the people" on halakhic grounds.  But did the
RWB H'M, "multitude of the people" have halakha at all?  
Q and S identify (p. 115) the "multitude of the people" with
the "they" group.  But this seems a gratuitous identification--
what is the evidence for this identification?  I found 
RWB/RB in pNah and the rest of the pesharim to be simply 
generic "society" or "the public at large".  I thought of 
analogies to the statement "we separated ourselves from 
the multitude of the people".   One elite aristocrat to 
another: "We don't associate with the rabble--we have 
separated ourselves from them and their practices."  Ezra 
and Neh also had their torah-keepers separating from the 
multitude of the people, including divorces.  But those 
heeding Ezra and Neh in separating from the multitude of 
the people were those in power, those in Jerusalem.  Perhaps 
this assumption that MMT derives from a powerless sect 
ought to be deconstructed or looked at anew--since it seems 
to derive from only a single phrase which does not clearly 
imply what it is assumed to imply.

A second issue is dating.  Q and S many times refer to MMT
as being "earlier" than other Qumran texts such as CD or
the pesharim.  I can see no evidence why MMT should not best
be plugged in at the latest end of the Qumran texts (I
interpret latest end to be mid-1st BCE).  There is a known
calendar text which has MH like MMT and is certainly 
later than 62 BCE: 4QMish(c).  MMT with its MH and 
possible calendar portion of text would go naturally in the
same time frame as the 4QMish texts as well.  MMT is perhaps 
the most personal, most revealing, least cryptic of the 
Qumran texts.  

I can see no reason why the "you" being addressed in MMT 
must be a superior figure.  The text reads well with the 
authors of MMT being the superior figures, in power, deciding
and answering questions of temple practice.  The passing
references to what "they" do are not dominant in the 
text but read well as a past administration (or perhaps 
another course of priests), but in any case are shadowy 
and ill-defined.  I can see no basis to consider the 
"they" priests as being in any more central position of 
power than the authors of MMT.  The
"you" and "your people" read well as some subordinate or
outlying friendly group--not necessarily in Jerusalem.
The exhortation to look at the example of David does not
need to mean the "you" is a king--it can be a simple
exhortation to look at the example of David.  The emphasis
on Jerusalem in MMT and the priests as the proper
recipients of firstfruits, tithes of herds, etc. (C62-64)
read well as authored by priests in power in Jerusalem
solidifying economic control.

The key question is one of evidence: what is the evidence 
that MMT is sectarian and not composed by priests in power 
in Jerusalem?  So ends this heretical reading of MMT.
But is it so heretical?  Q and S say at one point:  

    "MMT implies that the 'we' group regularly
    administered the Jerusalem temple" (p. 121)
Hmmmm. . . 

Greg Doudna