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orion Ostracon 1

	Ostracon 1 evidently dates from Qumran period II (ending circa 68
CE), based on the paleography and on the archaeological context where it
was found. This text--even if one temporarily brackets off the last four
extant letters of line 8--has remarkable parallels to 1QS and 4QS (and
Josephus). Since most (not all but most) scholars conclude that the period
II residents were Essenes, for anyone to choose to ignore these striking
parallels with Qumran Serek ha-yahad (and Josephus) raises significant
	Ostracon 1 is not likely to be a deed of sale. No price is extant,
though, if that were the only issue,  that--by itself--could perhaps be in
a lacuna.  What cannot be in a lacuna is the day and month, which are
required in a sale contract (unless one accepts the draft idea); day and
month would appear before the year. But the first word of this text is
extant and does not allow that. That Greg Doudna and Fred Cryer do not
agree on who supposedly sold to whom appears, preliminarily, to further
weaken this sale proposal.
	Dave Washburn has misread my post and apparently is not familiar
with the publications of Philip Davies. Prof. Davies has raised many
questions (e.g., about differences in S and D; about the possibility that
some texts were idealized; etc.), but, unless his views have changed quite
recently, Davies does not deny possible relationships between Essenes and
the Qumran site and some Qumran texts.  I agree with Philip on various
issues: e.g., I agree that it is "very probable" that the last extant
letter in line 8 is a dalet. (Greg Doudna's post relates that he and Fred
Cryer read chet.)
	IMO, the ostracon is a draft of a deed of conveyance or gift, to
the Essenes, using some already-attested Essene language, without a
specified calendar date  (which will be required to specify further line
5's "from this day") but with an initiation period time, which has not yet
been finalized by oath.  Any serious alternate proposal, IMHO, will address
the Qumran text parallels, Josephus, and the Qumran archaeology.
Stephen Goranson     goranson@duke.edu