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orion Re: Date of Scrolls Deposit--55 BCE?

The Aemilius Scaurus reference in 4QMish(c) is indeed very difficult 
to read as pre-63, before arrival in Jerusalem.  Nothing in Josephus 
hints at a correspondence to the "Aemilius killed" reference pre-63, 
whereas both in Pompey's conquest of 63 and in the year later that 
Aemilius was governor there is plenty of opportunity for Aemilius 
to have been involved in killing memorable to the writers of 
4QMish(c).  In fact, with the exception of the Shalamzion references, 
if that is Alexandra Salome, all of the other names and allusions in 
4QMish(c) can go shortly after 63 BCE as easily as shortly before 
63 BCE.

4QMish(c) is indeed like finding newspaper headlines with dates at an 
abandoned site that go up to a certain date and then stop.  One 
wonders if the date the headlines cease is registering something.  No 
other text at Qumran is like newspaper headlines, but the analogy 
with 4QMish(c) is there--names and events.  Milik and Wise both 
report multiple copies of 4QMish(c) (although a more economical 
explanation might be one text with a number of scribes).  Why would 
this text with dates in the c. 60's BCE be found among the other 
Qumran texts--and not a single text with anything dated later than 
this point in time reflected in the dateable allusions in 4QMish(c)? 

And yet within 4QMish(c), in the Aemilius Scaurus killing reference,
is the information that this is post-Pompey.  So there is both a text, and 
some radiocarbon dates, which are not consistent with a 63 BCE 
deposit date for all of the scrolls at Qumran.  Learning that something is 
not the case, such as a 63 BCE scrolls-deposit, is an advance in 
information.  With this background I would like to propose a date 
hypothesis which removes both of the objections just cited to the 63 
BCE date yet makes use of the tantalizing suggestion of a date in 
4QMish(c).  This is at least as speculative as the 68 CE theory--I 
do not wish to claim more for it than being a conjecture.  It is also 
falsifiable, as distinguished from falsified.  Therefore it may be 
useful to put out on the table.

My proposal is that the deposit date is a few years after Pompey, 
namely in the period of Gabinius, who was governor of Syria about 
57-54 BCE.  The context for the scrolls deposit--if the copper scroll 
is part of the scrolls deposit and if the copper scroll represents a real 
temple wealth hiding--is any anticipation of an invasion of Jerusalem 
in which there is some advance warning.  Getting valuables hidden in 
the wilderness in such a circumstance is unsurprising and falls into 
well-attested patterns.  According to Josephus, _War_ 1.160-178, 
there were three rebellions against Gabinius (the Romans), by 
Alexander, Aristobulus II, and Alexander.  Assuming the accounts of 
the Alexander and Alexander revolts are indeed distinct and not a 
doublet of the same event, it is the third one that is interesting, 
at 1.171f.  There Gabinius and all major armed forces (cp. 1.175)
are out of the country and Alexander gains the support of an army 
of 30,000 men (this is a large number), kills Romans, etc.  Here is 
a context in which there would be control of the temple, of Jerusalem, 
anticipation of attack, by Jews who were used to the Dead Sea region 
(Alexander and the fortresses is all through these accounts).  It is a 
context in which war upon Gabinius's return would be inevitable, and 
both wealth and temple treasure would go into the desert, into 
hiding, in anticipation of this--the texts at Qumran being an artifact 
of this event.  Note that Gabinius (after the first revolt of 
Alexander) at 1.169 "restores" (katagagwn) Hyrcanus II as high 
priest, perhaps implying differences in regimes and control in this 

Finally 4QMish(c), the text with the dated newspaper headlines--
in the analogy--is a perfect fit, in that there are references to the key 
figures in the immediate years post-63 BCE.  (M. Wise wrongly 
translates at Mish(c) A.2.6 "Aristobulus rebels".  This should 
read as someone rebelling in the time of Hyrcanus--in the form 
...Hyrcanus, (X) rebelled....)

It may seem that a difference of 8 calendar years is hardly significant for 
radiocarbon dates, i.e. the same radiocarbon objections to 63 BCE 
would apply virtually as well to 55 BCE.  But that is not necessarily so.  
There was a steep drop in the world's atmospheric 14C levels as measured 
in tree rings in the U.S. and Ireland reflected in the calibration curve 
between 55 and 45 BCE.  It is radiocarbon age, not calendar years, 
which is what is actually measured in an AMS accelerator.  There is a 
greater drop between 55 and 45 BCE than between 45 BCE and 15 CE.  
That there was a sharp drop in the world about the time 55 to 45 BCE  
is a fact.  Exactly which years in the Middle East this registered is 
subject to an estimated c. 10 year or so either way uncertainty due to 
unknown regional variation.  It is possible a 55 BCE latest date for all of 
the scrolls at Qumran _may_ be falsified on the basis of future 
radiocarbon data (I will do my best, to the extent I have any input, 
to attempt to falsify my own theory, i.e. this date).  But evaluation 
of the radiocarbon data that exists now does not look to me like a 
falsification for 55 BCE, particularly if substantial numbers of texts 
were being copied up to, so to speak, the moment the texts were 
gathered and taken away into hiding.

So that is my proposal for the deposit date of the scrolls: there is 
a scenario that looks interesting--and, unlike the 68 CE idea, this 
one has a text argument (4QMish(c)) . . . c. 55 BCE.

Greg Doudna