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Re: RGmyrken on Calendar, MMT, etc.
Russ Gmirkin wrote
Both Vernon and Greg assume, like the many others who have repeated this
argument from Habakkuk Pesher, that the High Priest was of necessity always
present at Atonement. Greg's mention of Menelaus as a candidate for Wicked
Priest highlights the tenuousness of this position. According to Rowley's
theory from the 1950s (which has much to recommend it), Onias III was the
Teacher of Righteousness, and Menelaus the Wicked Priest. Onias, who was
living in exile in Antioch during the years 175-170 BCE, was assassinated by
governor Andronicus at the instigation of Menelaus when the latter had been
summoned to the Syrian capital. This took place in late summer or the start
of fall 170 BCE, according to evidence on the brief tenure of Andronicus.
Here is a historical circumstance in which the most notoriously wicked high
priest of the second temple period assaulted a Zadokite predecessor,
conceivably around Atonement time. Menelaus, summoned to give account before
Antiochus IV regarding his delinquency in paying tribute, had no choice about
being away from Jerusalem around this time (yearly tribute was due in the
fall). While he was absent from Jerusalem, he appointed his brother
Lysimachus to serve in his place (as prostates or sagan, i.e. deputy high
priest). This historical incident serves as a counter-example to the
assumption that a high priest could not be absent during the Atonement
festival. Hence the Habakkuk Pesher incident in no way implies that the
Wicked Priest and the sectarians under the Teacher of Righteousness used
Fred Cryer responded:
Gentle men and ladies of our discipline: it was once thought
worthwhile to debate whether Bacon wrote Shakespeare, or, in a not
dissimilar vein, to attempt to identify the "suffering servant"
historically. I could name at least 10 of the suggestions that have
been made in this connexion offhand, without, I think, our becoming
any the wiser.
The same, naturally, applies to the identity of the
"Teacher of Righteousness", the "Wicked Priest", et al. The fact that
we do not *know* these identities, almost 50 years after the finds of
the documents, is clearly the result of the fact that the relevant
references are non-specific, and also that we have no insight into
the concrete context of the references. Failing the discovery of more
specific documentation we shall never have certainty or even high
probability in this regard, so I fail to see the usefulness of this
line of approach. But I am, of course, willing to be convinced
Fred, just to be perfectly clear, my point was not to argue an identity for
the TR and WP. Rather, I was highlighting by concrete example the fallacy in
using the Habakkuk Pesher to show a calendrical difference between the TR and
Jerusalem under the WP.
I agree that a rehash of existing theories is non-productive, as no one to
date has presented a compelling case for the identity of the TR, WP or the
historical context in which the DSS writings arose. I also agree that
entirely new lines of evidence are required to shed new light on these
However, I must respectfully disagree that new document discoveries are
required. The scrolls still contain a great deal of historical information
that the field has not yet properly exploited, or in some cases (in my
opinion) has been entirely mishandled. There is still much work to be done!
My recent article in DSD, "Roman Weaponry and the War Scroll Reconsidered,"
demonstrating the second century background of the War Scroll, illustrates
how new analysis can still shed light on the dates and context of old texts.
I hope to publish other articles soon with entirely new evidence on the
Maccabean context of the War Scroll and related documents, and no doubt
others out there are also conducting valuable historical research even as we
"speak." So let us not abandon the historical approach quite yet...