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orion Response to N. Golb
This is a partial response to the message sent to orion by Norman Golb, a
message sent against orion rules which require that the writer (or at least
forwarder) join the list and provide an e-mail address, a requirement, I
assume, intended to foster mutuality, reciprocity, accountablilty, and
respect. I cannot respond to the whole message, because this summer I was
not at the Israel Museum, directed by Yaacov Meshorer, a leading
numistmatist and one familiar with inscriptions. (Nor was I at the Library
of Congress when that exhibit was planned; nor was I at Oxford when Prof.
Golb accused G. Vermes and P. Alexander of Qumran arrangements made in a
manner which they have denied in writing; etc.) For the Jerusalem
conference, I have only reports, reports of N. Golb denying Qumran scribal
evidence again, despite the inkwells, of Golb venturing a
doubly-triumphalist welcome of the scrolls back to Jerusalem, of Golb's
slide show, etc. Nor was I at the Israel Exploration Journal offices when
Prof. B. Levine and colleagues evaluated and accepted the article.
Prof. Golb begins with orion posts, oddly pointing to Philip
Davies, a scholar who is more open than many to giving minority views, such
as Golb's, a full hearing. (As for the book _Who Wrote the Scrolls?_ I
recommend the intelligent review by L. Grabbe in Dead Sea Discoveries v.4
n.1, 1997.) Golb notes that F. Cryer was active in the debate. True enough.
Cryer in Dec. questioned the reading of yahad, questioning the middle
letter, though not the yod or dalet. On 7 Dec Cryer wrote, inter alia, "not
to say that the [yahad] reading is out of the question, but only that there
is no particular reason to advocate it." Perhaps his views have changed. On
12 Dec. Cryer expressed some doubts about N-shaped hets in general.
Presumably, this is less an issue now, since (I read) that E. Eshel showed
further examples. And, after all, _The Book of Hebrew Script_ [in Hebrew]
by Ada Yardeni (Jerusalem: Carta, 1991) includes examples. The scripts of
the time are relevant, and our scribe showed a range of letter-shapes.
Actually, more active in the orion debate that Cryer was G. Doudna.
Can it be that Golb's intermediaries have told him that Doudna strayed from
the Golb line--even if only briefly--and accepted some links with Serek
ha-yahad (and even suggested additional links)? In any case, the deed of
sale article which Cryer and Doudna were to publish now (I read) has one
author. We will have to wait upon publication to evaluate it fully, though,
e.g., the date formula already appears problematic for a deed of sale.
It is possible that the museum erred in implying that this was the
*first* evidence of sectarian presence and links of scrolls, caves and the
ruins., since the miqva'ot, scroll jars, proximity and paths to the caves,
the graves atypical of other Jews, and Pliny when read correctly, etc., had
already provided evidence.
Golb wrote of a photo that it is "not the best." He did not write
his criteria for judging photos. E.g., was the polarization method shown at
SBL/ASOR in Nov 1996 not better than infrared for ceramics?
Of course the work of Ada Yardeni and Joseph Naveh are highly
respected--certainly by me. But somehow Golb neglected to mention that the
work of F.M. Cross is also highly respected (Naveh wrote in an
acknowledgement that Cross and N. Avigad introduced him to epigraphy and
palaeography). The work of Esther Eshel is highly respected; she has shed
more light on Qumran mss than many others.
Golb wrote that Ada Yardeni has a "cogent and palaeographically
well-grounded" reading of the ostracon. Does he tell us what that is? No.
But, evidently, Golb thinks that, on his word, we on orion should be
outraged that this reading has not been accepted! And officially. How can
we accept a reading we have not seen? His rhetoric pretending that Cross
and Eshel have not produced a "reading" is simply absurd. I welcome the
publication by Yardeni, and that by Cryer, and by others, including Golb,
should they write such. I would welcome them to join orion and discuss the
ostracon (F. Cryer hasn't posted lately). They need to be presented for
evaluation (again, please see the review by L. Grabbe).
In my opinion the IEJ article is excellent, but it missed the
further link with Serek hayahad in line 1. It could have mentioned Josephus
War 2, etc. But, IMO, even with the last letters of line 8 bracketed off,
it is clearly an Essene text.
Prof. Golb has been denying the link of Qumran with Essene Jews
with a tenacity not seen since the era of the learned Solomon Zeitlin,
editor of JQR, as Golb well knows. I suggest to the University of Chicago
Professor of Jewish History and Civilization that it is unseemly, writing
in late twentieth century, to encourage people to deny occurances in Jewish
history for which there is abundant evidence.
Stephen Goranson email@example.com