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orion An Archeleus-era historical allusion?
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An interesting new reading of an historical name is reported
in Magen Broshi, "Ptolas and the Archeleus Massacre (4Q468g)",
in the _Journal of Jewish Studies_ 49 (1998) 341-345. (Broshi
credits Ada Yardeni in a footnote for the reading, and also input
from E. Eshel.)
In the Flint/Vanderkam Jubilee volume I, I asked if there was
evidence securely establishing any Qumran text composition
or scribal activity as late as the 1st CE. Neither paleographic
typology (because of failure to establish when "Herodian" script
characteristics first came into use, modern scholarly assertions
notwithstanding) nor existing radiocarbon data
(for reasons discussed in my article) provide a basis for knowledge
of 1st CE scribal activity among the Qumran texts.
I would love my single-generation hypothesis (that the bulk of
Qumran texts come from scribes somewhere in the mid-1st BCE,
with some older, but not any younger, texts among the total) to be
falsified. Such can be done simply by securely establishing that
a single Qumran text dates to the 1st CE. (The reason I
would love a falsification is because more would be known
than is now known.)
Does the 4Q468 reading provide evidence of an
Archeleus-era historical allusion? The three-line fragment
(as rendered in English) has "killing the multitude of men . . .
Potlais and the people that . . ." Broshi notes that (a) the
only known occurrence of the name in Josephus is Ant 17.219
(equivalent to War 2.14), and that (b) in the Josephus account
a massacre in the vicinity of the temple is followed
by Archeleus setting out for Rome in the company of three friends,
one of whom is named Ptollas.
The reading of the name seems sound. After studying the Brill
microfiche (43.400) the only possible alternative that occurred to
me was that the reading instead of PWTL'YS might be
HTLWYM, "the ones hanged", plural Qal passive participle of TLH
with the apparent starting PW actually being the relic of a H and
the mark which appears to be the base of the P being from
an erased B that Broshi notes was overwritten. Separately, the
Aleph following the Lamed seems to be missing a left leg and
that is puzzling. Nevertheless, the reading of Yardeni appears
correct (rather than "the ones hanged").
However--and I solicit evaluations from others--I see problems
with a conclusion that this text establishes an Archeleus-era
reference. The positive argument is that it is a match of the only
attested name in Josephus following a massacre in both cases.
But against turning this into a conclusion I see these points:
(1) Fundamentally, there is no certainty that Josephus's Ptollas
is the only Ptollas of significance. A second name in this text
linked to Archeleus would about nail it down, but--at least to me--
it seems the the single name without some second link leaves
too much open to establish the Archeleus link. The massacre
correspondence is interesting but its force weakened when it is
considered how frequently any name in a Qumran text (or
Josephus) is in proximity to a reference to killing.
(2) At least half a dozen names in Qumran texts all cluster in
the years leading up to c. 63 BCE, without a single other
attestation later than 63 BCE. An Archeleus allusion would be
some six decades later. The very isolation of this possible
allusion from other dated references increases the question
concerning it. If, say, there was a reference to Herod the Great
or a Herodian-era Roman procurator in some other Qumran
text--any Qumran text, anywhere--then the Archeleus-era
allusion ID would become more likely.
One potential objection that Broshi addresses I do not see as an
objection: Broshi notes it might be objected that Ptollas in the
Josephus story does not read as if he was involved with the
preceding massacre. (Broshi suggests Ptollas could have been,
even if Josephus doesn't say so.) But the visible portion of
4Q468 does not claim this any more than Josephus. The
massacre and the name Ptolas are on distinct lines in the
4Q468 fragment separated by a lacuna of unknown length,
and therefore there is no certainty from 4Q468 that Ptolas
is involved with the massacre, as distinguished from being
part of a separate sentence and event.
Another detail is that the rendering of Broshi or Yardeni,
of men" is from HGBRYM, perhaps better "multitude of warriors".
But that would not be in disagreement with the Josephus account.
This reading is very intriguing--but what can be known from
it? Perhaps others on this list might take a look at the dozen or
other fragments on 43.400. I see three or four other possible -S
ending readings which could be relics of more Greek-sounding
names, but (frustratingly) could not identify any more names due
to difficult readings and lacunas. Perhaps someone else can find
a second name or other helpful information from the fragments on
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