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orion Production and Deposit
Part of my problem with the theories relating to "production" and "deposit"
of the scrolls is that the alternatives are presented as all or nothing
propositions. Moreover, none of the proposals satisfies all the "evidence"
nor are they consistent with my human experiences - an admittedly subjective
view that I will try to explain.
SG wants it to be Essenes forever. IH wanted it to be 64/63 BCE Sadducees.
RG wanted 76 BCE Sadducees. GD wanted 40-37 BCE, but is willing to consider
alternative dates such as the date of Herod's attack on Jericho. Golb wants
the scrolls to be from the temple and other libraries in Jerusalem. Others
say they must have been produced at the site in the "upper room." I do not
understand the unwillingness to consider what seems to me to be a more
realistic scenario that would involve multiple sources and more than one
By way of preface, I would appeal to each of you, especially those in higher
education, to look around your offices, in the corner over there, look on top
of the book shelf or in the file cabinet, or on the table just behind your
sack lunch. Where did all that "stuff" come from? Did you produce all of
it? How long have you occupied this site? How much of that material was
very important once, but maybe not so important now. How much have you
carefully put away someplace like the attic or basement - probably not in a
jar but in the common storage device, e.g. a banker's box.
To me it seems more realistic to think of it as a process of multiple
production sources and several deposits that could help accommodate the
otherwise irreconcilable views. The following example does not require a
late Essene inheritance of all or most of the scrolls, unless one calls
Herod's attack on Jericho "late." Moreover, it would permit some persons to
be not so intense about the identification of a particular group as the sole
1 Matters became very serious indeed when Sadducees, specifically Diogenes,
advise Alexander that the appropriate punishment is to crucify 800 Pharisees.
2. Alexandra assumes power - a very strange event by itself in that she was
3. Pharisees slit Diogenes throat and kill a few of the key Sadducees. This
is followed by the Sadducees being scattered around the country taking key
scrolls with them to places like Jericho where they continue to rail against
4. Alexandra dies in 67 BCE, but tensions within Jerusalem remain high with
disputes between Hyrkanus and Aristolbulus and with the Romans moving into
the region. Some Sadducees (particularly military) return to Jerusalem but
others with their documents remain in Jericho
5. In the meantime a small group of Essenes have been living at Qumran and
they have no particular quarrel with Sadducees (?).
6. The Essenes are working away and storing scrolls in their "attic", i.e.,
7. Herod and 10 bands of troops, including five Roman bands, march toward
Jericho but the people there, including Sadducees, flee and hide scrolls in
the caves near Jericho, including - with the help of the Essenes - in caves 4
and 5 , or others.
8. Essenes continue to occupy Qumran generally enjoying the good opinion of
Herod. They are willing to keep these things stored in their caves while
fauning over Herod and his son to gain protection.
It seems to me that a scenario such as this tends to be closer to human
experience and what was happening in the area during the period from about 70
BCE to 70 CE. Everything was in flux and change was the rule. Such a theory
accommodates issues like archeology, paleographic dating, many hands, C-14
dating, mixed religious messages in the scrolls, some sectarian
characteristics opposing temple administration, sigma ranges, Pliny etc. It
does not confine Essenes to Herod's time. One could have them back to 100
BCE if desired. Is this just "fuzzy-minded humanistic history?"
P.S. To SG: I did not say that I thought Essenes were selling scrolls. I
did ask whether they might have sold scrolls because I wonder how they
supported themselves. How did they put bread on the table?