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yahad scribes, etc. (fwd)

David W. Suter
Saint Martin's College
Lacey, WA 98503

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1996 10:17:38 -0400 (EDT)
To: orion@pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il
Subject: yahad scribes, etc.

Dear orion readers,
1) I wonder whether "the year two" in the new Qumran ostracon refers to the
second year of the Essene initiation process.
2) On scribal hand counts: important, but perhaps easier said than done. See
e.g. JJS 47 (1996) p. 314. Michael Stone samples letters from 2 mss (PAM
43.237 & 43.245). Are they from one hand or two? (I guess one; but I'm no
3) I guess greg D. implies I have not responded to the number of scribal
hands. I have done so, but he may not count my response as responsive. Yes,
there are many hands, but that number does nothing to deny Essene writing
at Qumran. Again: there were enough Essenes. (Old estimates: over 4000 [at
one time, I think in first cent. BCE] and myriads [over time].) Again: some
texts were imported to Qumran; other texts were exported from Qumran, as is
normal. Yes, numbers matter. The number of inkwells is extraordinary. The
probability that at least one Qumran ms dates to the first century CE,
based on AMS, I would guess, conservatively, at over 99%.
4) I am puzzled why Dr. Naomi G. Cohen (26 Nov) found Tom Simms' 24 Nov
post persuasive. Perhaps the point was to show disdain toward the word
"scriptoria." How is King Tut's tomb relevant? Other than the concentration
of inkwells at Qumran, need one repeat in each post that Pliny is indeed
relevant (despite attempts to deny it), that scroll caves are indeed
associated with the ruins, that essenes preserved books, that they likely
had a high literacy rate, that ostraca have been found in the ruins, etc.?
Why no inscribed (or uninscribed) leather in the ruins? Because it decomposed
and/or burned, as did all the cloth (except in the caves)--unless one
proposed the qumran inhabitants were nudists.
5) Greg D. (and N. Golb) propose a higher threshold of required evidence for
Qumran mss from Qumran than for Qumran mss from Jerusalem.
6) On the jars formerly known as scroll jars: so, what other uses? 
Speculation...Speculation: perhaps for soaking leather in preparation for
writing? A dirty job, maybe best done out of the city. Some ancients used
green dates in the process.
7) my articles do not (pace Greg) include all relevant inkwells (and the BA
photos are not in color, contra 24 Nov post). Many are unpublished.
Currently a ceramic inkwell is on display in north carolina museum of art,
Raleigh NC. It *may* be from Qumran. The catalogue should be in print soon.
Unfortunately, to my knowledge, no really thorough study of ancient
inkwells exists. Someone please encourage a graduate student toward this.
8) Pace greg, priests can be scribes too.
9) Apparently Ian H. (22 Nov) was under the impression that "Roman" inkwells
were used only by Romans. Rather, this usually refers to the time period.
Jews surely used them. And why would Roman soldiers, in control of the place,
leave inkwells anyway?
10) In the same JJS 1996 Joan Taylor works minimalism on John the Baptist
and Essenes. E.g., John wasn't only in the Qumran area, but also in Peraea.
Well, so were the Essenes. Of course, reasonable people can differ on
whether John was or had ever been an Essene. But Matthew 3:7f is at least
a bit suggestive. "Matthew" prefered John over some other Jews, but 
prefered Jesus over John. 3:7: "...when he saw many of the Pharisees and
Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them 'you brood of vipers...
bear fruit [poioun karpon] that befits repentance...
11) Those who imagine texts come only from big cities might peruse
J. Roman studies 85 (1995) 214-35. H.M. Cotton et al., "The Papyrology of
the Roman Near East: a survey", p. 235 (conclusion) : "A considerable
proportion of the documents listed here do not emanate from cities, but from
country districts characterized by villages or small towns."
Best wishes,
Stephen Goranson   UNC-Wilmington 
706 Louise Circle J, Durham NC 27705