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

Date: Sat, 11 Oct 1997 18:25:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stephen Goranson <goranson@duke.edu>
Subject: Re: orion Re: Date of Scrolls Deposit--55 BCE?

The 55 BCE proposed deposit date encounters difficulties, including:
	The AMS data (and paleography) indicate some mss later than 55 BCE.
It would appear to be special pleading to suggest that a change in upper
atmosphere C14, unspecified for the near east, would be sufficient to allow
it (though future data and calculations are welcome), and/or to stipulate
that a "substantial" number of texts were being copied just before deposit,
and/or that late dates (e.g., 4QpPs a at 2-sigma 5-111 CE; 1-sigma 22-78
CE) be excluded as contaminated. Are all three unknowns required to allow a
55 date?
	The "newspaper" analogy is questionable. Newspapers usually report
recent events. Calendars and annals may recall events from long ago. Also,
this type of text is rare at Qumran. And it is fragmentary; Aemilius
killing may or may not be the latest event extant in it, but later events
may have been included before it deteriorated. It provides only a date
after which the deposit occurred. This is even more relevant if one
proposes (as, e.g., F. Cryer) that it is a copy, not an autograph. (Rather
than a newspaper, perhaps Megillat Taanit or Seder Olam is a closer
analogy.) Even if one accepted the newspaper analogy, suppose one examined
a partly-robbed and partly-destroyed attic and found one newspaper, on the
death of A. Lincoln--would than mean all the attic deposit must have been
soon after?
	Qumran has not been shown to be a fortress. The non-retrieval of
the mss is unexplained, as is the lack of futher deposits by the site's
"later" inhabltants. That the texts came from Jerusalem is speculation
which overlooks the relationships of the caves and the inhabited site, a
communal site (with evidence for Essene presence and texts) which does not
display either a destruction or a major change of usage in c. 55.
Stephen Goranson       goranson@duke.edu