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orion 4QSon of God,N. Altman & Crowder
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On April 2, Stephen Goranson wrote:
>In the Minneapolis Star Tribune, 28 March (searchable via
http://www.startribune.com ), "Research Challenges Dead Sea Scrolls
Origin," Neil Altman and David Crowder wrote that 4QSon of God (4Q246)
cannot be a first century BCE text, because, they propose, Jews then would
not or could not have written such a text. They claim it is a later,
Christian text. I suggest that they are mistaken and that they have
misinformed some Minnesota readers. I won't argue that in detail
now--perhaps someone else will--because a detailed response on their claim
concerning red ink brought no clear retraction.<
The article has appeared in perhaps 20 U.S. and Canadian newspapers in
recent months and will be published in more in coming weeks. There are two
versions, one about 2,900 words long and the other, about a third of that,
depending on the trims. I'm not sure which one the Star Tribune ran, off
Dr. Goranson correctly summarizes our proposition. But to suggest that
we have deliberately misinformed readers would be untrue. To say our
contention is not the mainstream view today would obviously be correct.
But to try now to state with certainty that we are wholly wrong --
especially in light of a great deal of evidence we believe the Dead Sea
Scroll Industrial Complex (my term) has overlooked, contientiously ignored
or misrepresented -- would be ... arrogant, for lack of a better word.
I am not the researcher on this team, just a newspaper reporter,
sometimes columnist and editor for 25 years. But I have noticed in this
group that it is possible to lay out 10 points in support of an argument,
see nine of them ignored, one of them attacked and than all 10 declared
In its current form, one article that appeared under Neil Altman's name
and now runs with mine as well, "Were the Dead Sea Scrolls Written by
Christians?" makes 20 points in support on that contention -- some minor
and some major. Some we have supported at length, as allowed by space
limitations, and in other cases we have restated what others have written
or what is commonly known.
One of those points involved red ink.
Yet Goranson suggests that he is not about to take on the article about
the Son of God text, which does NOT mention red ink, because Altman has not
retracted his statements about red ink in "Christian scrolls." If I have my
versions correct, it stated:
"But University of Pennsylvania scholars say the earliest use of red
ink in Biblical manuscripts, such as the Codex Sinaiticus written by
Christian monks, was the 3rd or 4th century AD.
"Dr. (Hayim) Sheynin said the earliest use of red ink that appears
on Hebrew manuscripts is around the l3th century AD."
These were legitimate interviews with top-of-the-line scholars. What
should Altman retract?
Our current article, and perhaps the older version, also states:
"Rabbinical sources state categorically that from ancient times on, only
black ink was to be used in Torah texts. Yet red ink is used in a more than
a few scroll fragments, including two from the biblical book of Numbers."
I asked for a response to this a few days ago but got not one.
Do any of Dr. Goranson's >well informed< members of this list need a
citation? Is the above statement a lie? Inaccurate? Irrelevant?
My point is we raised 20 issues in a 2,428-word piece. Goranson has
attacked red ink and suggested that on the basis of that "error" and the
"proof" in an Archaeometry journal report we find suspect that we are
dishonest for not retracting.
Well even if our assertion (that the presence of red ink in the scrolls
and Torah texts in particular indicates the scrolls were not produced until
later by Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah) is wrong -- and we're not
conceding it is -- that wouldn't impact the other issues Altman has raised
since 1992, many of which I have offered here.
Goranson has raised a number of other challenges in recent months that
Altman has answered on paper to me. I haven't transcribed them and posted
them here, but I shall try to do so this weekend.