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Re: orion Ostracon 1

At 12:57 PM 8/16/97 -0400, you wrote:
>	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. 

The paleography seems uncertain if several of the letters are indistinct and
there is debate about a deformed nun or gimel.  Thus it seems a little
premature to suggest that the date is evident.  The archaeological context
is also rather open ended, isn't it?

>This text--even if one temporarily brackets off the last four
>extant letters of line 8--has remarkable parallels to 1QS and 4QS (and

my recent article on a certain Qumran fragment shows the difficulties
inherent in drawing parallels from limited data. (see on the Journal of
Biblical Studies home page, articles link).

> Since most (not all but most) scholars conclude that the period
>II residents were Essenes, 

now theres the rub.  Lately on this very list the identification of the
Qumran inhabitants has been roundly debated.

>for anyone to choose to ignore these striking
>parallels with Qumran Serek ha-yahad (and Josephus) raises significant

such as?

>	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.

again, limited data can render only limited results.

>	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.

This is rather a lot to draw from a little sherd.

>  Any serious alternate proposal, IMHO, will address
>the Qumran text parallels, Josephus, and the Qumran archaeology.

Perhaps it is simply a bit early to be making any proposal rather than a
provisional one.  I am reminded of a story told by my archaeology professor.
He said that one day various archaeologists would dig up 20th century
Baptist churches and suggest that said Baptists must ahve worshipped some
aquatic creature; as most baptist churches have large tanks behind the
altar.  Perhaps more evidence is needed before the Ostracon can be called an

>Stephen Goranson     goranson@duke.edu


Jim West, ThD
Adjunct Professor of Bible, Quartz Hill School of Theology