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orion-list Golb on 63 BCE

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My responses to Golb's arguments cited yesterday arguing for the 
First Revolt as the date context for the Qumran scrolls deposits:

(1) The linguistic dating argument for 1st century CE Copper Scroll
and MMT because of MH features is invalid for reasons analogous
to high-precision palaeographic datings of Qumran texts: there is 
no basis for knowing this type of language use started only in the 
1st CE, and not earlier.  In fact 4QMishC, which has only late 
Hasmonean-era names and gives every appearance of having been 
composed contemporary with the names and events to which it refers, 
has similar "Mishnaic Hebrew" affinities; prima facie this suggests 
MMT/Copper Scroll type of writing was being done in the mid-1st BCE.  
As for the linguistic differences between Copper Scroll, MMT, and 
MishC, on the one hand, and the literary texts on the other, these 
likely can be accounted for in terms of genre (the Copper Scroll being 
an economic text; MMT a letter [copies of]; MishC an annal).  Any 
linguistic dating argument against 1st BCE dates for these texts can 
therefore be dismissed.

(2) While I agree with Golb that the Copper Scroll found in association 
with the literary texts in Cave 3 is a very good argument for a common 
wealth-and-texts hiding scenario, and a context for this as prompted by 
an expected siege of Jerusalem is very plausible, there is nothing 
intrinsic to such an analysis which favors 70 CE over 63 BCE.  Any 
notion that the First Revolt is "more likely" than the earlier invasion of 
Pompey must be examined for why this seems so.  It may be that the 
accident that Josephus and the early church fathers, etc. focused on 
70 CE has affected perception anachronistically.  To an historian, 
Pompey's invasion threat ought to be no less effective than the later
Vespasian invasion threat in prompting a hiding--but no Josephus wrote 
about Pompey's invasion, and no New Testament looks forward to a
Pompey invasion prophetically, so it is not in our foreground of 
consciousness.  We anachronistically then become captive to these 
later and retroactive periodizations of history.

(3) The finding of texts at Masada exactly like Qumran texts in 
First Revolt context is perhaps Golb's strongest apparent argument 
for a First Revolt dating of the Qumran texts, but it is a weak 
argument when looked at more closely.  It is probably not too
significant that the Masada final excavation report, vol III (1991, 
Netzer), p. 417, notes that exact information is missing on the find 
context within casemate 1039 of the texts, since whatever the
details, they were found with Greek and Latin papyri with First
Revolt dates.  Of more importance, as discussed also in vol. II 
(1989, Cotton and Gezer), p. 183f, the judgment of the archaeologists 
is that these texts were secondarily gathered to this location, with no 
knowledge as to where they were gathered from.  Golb says these 
texts came to Masada from Jerusalem via refugees but, although
that is very possible, it is not at all certain.  We simply don't know 
how those texts came to Masada, or where they were brought from.  
BJ 4.516 says Sicarii controlled Masada independently of refugees 
from Jerusalem (and the Sicarii were burning and looting throughout 
the region, according to Josephus).  Plus Jerusalem cannot have 
been the only source of refugees ending up at Masada.  In the 
absence of secure knowledge as to origin of these texts, the possibility 
that they originated from a secondary find from one of the Qumran caves 
themselves and then were carried to Masada (similar to the way 
many scholars explain the presence of copies of the Qumran text CD 
at the medieval Cairo Genizah) cannot a priori be excluded.  (And is it
even possible these texts are from some c. 63 BCE inhabitants at 
Masada?  According to BJ 7.285, "Jonathan", prob. Alexander 
Jannaeus, founded the site.)  In any case the presence of a text 
exactly like one at Qumran at another site in a First Revolt find context 
does not prove that the dating of the Qumran deposits are as late as 
the second, later find spot.  Note also that the Masada and Qumran 
text finds are not comparable in terms of find spots.  At Qumran they 
are all hidden in caves, with none found at the site.  At Masada there 
is no known hiding, but the several texts were found non-hidden at 
the site.  In sum, while the origin of the Masada ShirShabb and 
several other Hebrew text fragments is a puzzle, there is no evidence 
from this that dates the massive Qumran text deposit activity itself, 
in jars and in caves around Qumran, to as late as the First Revolt.

Greg Doudna

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