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Re: orion scroll fakes, ETC.
The issue has been raised: When and how to correct errors on the
list. This was raised by a post from J. West (28 Nov) sharply criticizing
an illustration in_The Biblical Illustrator_ (which I haven't seen) and
by responses by E. Smalling and M. Wood.
I had been thinking about this question for some additional
reasons. J. West (also 28 Nov), after allowing that it was possible, wrote
that "...there is not any evidence to suggest a scribal center [at
Qumran]." While all are free to their opinions, I knew that the denial of
*"any"* such evidence was false. At the time I chose not to respond. Would
it be worthwhile to remind about the extraordinary concentration of
inkwells, the rare scroll jars (which J. Magness wrote on list were
probably designed for scrolls), the scribal school proposal of E. Tov and
others, the scriptorium proposal (not universally accepted, but more
accepted than the triclinium alternative), the proximity of the texts (a
Jerusalem genizah would likely be in Jerusalem), the edited texts, the
ostraca, the communal settlement, the only suitable match for the Essene
site noted in Pliny and others, the Essenes, who preserved books, books
present at Qumran, etc.?
Another reason I though about this was seeing the very interesting
latest issue of _Le Monde de la Bible_, on Qumran. Though it includes quite
a lot of interest, was it worth noting on orion that a widespread
misapprehension is repeated in it: the false supposition that "Essenes"
does not appear in the scrolls (without any defence of what spelling was
sought and not found). Or that the copper scroll in situ photo is rotated
Or: Is it worth noting that many publications have incorrectly
captioned inkwell photos? Etc.
One encouraging sign, IMO, was the useful information provided on
list by R. Kraft and J. Treat to sort out claims of "Chinese" marks. I hope
more list members who are well informed will participate. I do think it is
sometimes helpful for posts with implausible theories to be answered, lest
new list members give them undue credance.
But I wonder whether the list is really more useful when it
provides either new information or the incremental sort of correction which
is appropriate for a subject with an enormous literature. In other words, a
lot of theories have been tried out before.
For example, the excellent Vermes edition of Schurer (I, 224, n.
22) reads (in part):
"Whilst the theory advanced by some scholars (e.g. M. Delcor...F.F.
Bruce...J. van der Ploeg...) concerning the identity of the Wicked Priest
and Alexander Jannaeus is seriously weakened by the findings of archaeology
(viz. the Qumran establishment was founded 30 to 40 years before the time
of Jannaeus), most historians agree in recognising him the villain of the
That was published in 1973. Many archaeologists today deny that founding
date. Now that all the texts are accessible, it also appears that no
copies of S, D, MMT, or pesharim date that early date either. (Of course
Essenes and Qumran need not have the same founding time.)
There is so much new information. No doubt there must be some
corrections of some previously-held assumptions. Good. I hope to see more
of that sort of thing on orion. No one person can cover the whole
bibliographic waterfront. I merely make the modest proposal that those who
think to post new theories consider also what aspects of the old findings
have not been overturned, and try to take that into account, too.
Stephen Goranson firstname.lastname@example.org