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Re: orion new Qumran Essene ostracon
On the recently published ostracon, I have a few comments following Stephen
Goransons' over-positive evaluation. I don't thnk Stephen (or Cross and
Eshel) are necessarily wrong; just that their certainty does not strike me
as entirely justfied.
The ostracon is produced by an 'unskilled scribe' - so it is a draft.
Drafted at Qumran, presumably using one of Stephen's favourite inkwells? So
many well-trained scribes tyere and such a poor effort! C and E says (p.
26) that this was in the archives of the Qumran community. In that case, it
was not a draft, was it - it was the legal document. The editors need to
make up their minds what they are exactly suggesting - a rought draft or
the final copy.
ON p. 25 C and E say 'that the reading YHD is 'wihout serious objection'
yet they footnote the fact that the HET is not the scribe;s usual HET. I
would have thought this was in fact a serious objection. Since any personal
name will fit here, a lot of possibilities exist.
They also say that the DALET is certain. Not to me it is not, on the basis
of the print or the transciption. It is very probable, I concede.
On the interpretation, I am wonder why if the gift is to a YAHAD, the
recipient is a certain El'azar. The supposition that he is the 'treasurer
or bursar' (C and E p 25) is an assumption based on a hypothesis.
In sum: this is a good article but not as good as it should be; it lacks a
certain critical distance and adopts a hypothesis far too readily. I would
rather that the scholarly community now continues to debate and decide the
interpretation. I do not think I would rely on Cross and Eshel to tell us
that this is already decided.
Philip R Davies
Department of Biblical Studies
University of Sheffield