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orion Orion: Arch, palaeography

1. Brad Harrison has good comments regarding interpretation of 
the site at Qumran.  Isn't it a scandal that there is no published 
excavation report--the section drawings, the pottery, the inscriptions 
(!), et al from Qumran?  And as Jodi Magness said at the recent 
Jerusalem conference, she is able to look at the stuff--that is not 
the problem--but she can't talk about it, can't use it, can't comment 
on it in publication, because that cannot be done without violating 
someone's third- or fourth- generation inherited proprietary rights 
over unpublished materials.  What insights might someone like 
Brad be making and reporting right now--if there was access 
to this primary information.  Is there something more productive 
that anyone can do about this other than wait for God to act?  

2. On palaeography, Davies is right: this high-precision 
palaeographic date estimation done routinely in DJD editions for 
Qumran texts is very bizarre.  Cross's date estimates published in 
1961 are used unchanged today.  If this was real science there would 
be engagement with the data and modifications of those date peg 
estimates.  I found one case of an engagement with Cross's script date 
estimates on the basis of data, but it seems to have attracted no notice.  
Puech in 1983 (RB 90: 481-533) discussed Inscription A of the Tomb 
of Jason.  Puech reports a reading of "the 22nd year".  Rejecting 
the possibility of JHrcI for other reasons, Puech concluded on what seem 
to be good grounds that this writing is therefore dated in the 22nd year 
of Alexander Jannaeus, or 81 BCE.  But the script compares to types 
which are dated in Cross's script charts at 50-25 BCE.  Puech commented, 
"On devrait remonter un peu toute la chronologie relative habituellement 
acceptee pour cette periode" (p. 495) ("it is necessary to raise a little 
the palaeographic dating chronology customarily accepted for this 
period")--presumably by the c. 25-50 years difference from Cross's date 
estimates.  Of course it might be objected that this is only one piece of data.  
But this one dated piece of writing happens to be 100 percent of the 
absolutely dated exemplars known for this century.  So the question 
comes down to: which is to be preferred--palaeographic date estimates 
for a century of scripts on the basis of one dated item (the Tomb of Jason), 
or palaeographic estimates for 1st BCE scripts on the basis of 
comparison with no dated items from the century at all (Cross 1961)?  

Greg Doudna