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orion-list Golb on 63 BCE

Golb was here today, in fine form and friendly audience.  In the questions 
after his big guest lecture this morning I asked him how confident he was 
of his 70 CE scenario as opposed to some earlier dating of deposit of the 
scrolls such as 63 BCE, and what were his reasons.  I asked him to explain 
why he was so traditional in following de Vaux and Cross on this point of 
the First Revolt dating.  (My wording of the question in this way brought at

least one laugh.)

Golb answered the question forthrightly.  He said it was not certain,
but he regarded it with very high confidence based on a convergence of 
evidence, which is the historian's duty to reconstruct.  His reasons were:
(1) the Copper Scroll describes a hiding of wealth from Jerusalem
which fits the First Revolt, and the Mishnaic Hebrew characteristics
make the Copper Scroll too late linguistically to be 1st BCE.  The 
Mishnaic Hebrew characteristics of 4QMMT are also too late linguistically 
to be 1st BCE.
(2) The hiding of texts and phylacteries in the caves around Qumran is 
associated with the hiding of wealth of the Copper Scroll, and this fits 
the First Revolt as the inhabitants of Jerusalem anticipated a Roman 
siege and got valuables out of the city.  (Golb suggested many of the 
people fleeing Jerusalem who hid phylacteries and texts at Qumran 
may have continued in flight on to Machereus.)
(3) The same type of texts that were found at Qumran were found at
Masada, brought there by refugees from Jerusalem at the time of the
First Revolt.  This suggests that the texts at Qumran, which are the 
same type, are contemporary, also from the First Revolt and from 
(4) As to why there are no secure post-63 BCE allusions in any of the
Qumran texts, Golb said that was an argument from silence, that we
know of only a fraction of the total number of texts hidden in the caves
in antiquity.  Furthermore, the vast majority of texts have no references
of any kind and are undated in this sense.  He did indicate the lack of 
post-63 BCE references was puzzling and he had no good explanation 
for it, but that most likely it was simple accident that only pre-63 BCE 
references survive.  In his view, such an argument from silence was not 
enough to overthrow the sound reasons which converge upon the First 
Revolt Jerusalem texts-and-wealth hiding scenario.

Greg Doudna

For private reply, e-mail to Greg Doudna <gd@teol.ku.dk>
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