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Re: orion-list 63 BCE and all that (4 screens)
Please excuse the delay; I was in process of answering when things
suddenly got rather unstable around here. As the aftershocks are
settling down to minor bumps (blast it! there went another one), I
think I can risk having the computer on for more than 15-20 minutes
though, it was slight, around a 2.2.
Bradley Harrison asked:
>Why is it assumed that the Dead Sea Scrolls were a single
It's only another version of pigeon-holing that excludes AND from a
theory and reduces the number of variables by treating possible schema
as EITHER/OR propositions. This practice is very well known in every
field and leads to intractable variables that refuse to fit within the
schema being classed under terms such as "outliers," "transitions,"
"irrelevant," "discardable," etc.
>What is the evidence that the DSS are a single period
>deposit, let alone a hasty single period deposit.
None. The sheer number of scribal hands, scripts and fonts, and the
necessary massive number of scriptoria involved to employ those scribes
is against any single deposit/single date theory. The evidence does
support a collection of documents accumulated/stowed/buried/thrown in
a corner/left behind, etc.across 400-500 years with *perhaps* occasional
single lump "deposits." Now Golb *may* be suffering from preconceptions,
as Niels Peter claims... we cannot know. On the other hand, if we wish
to know why Doudna postulates a single deposit, we need only read his
article, "Paleography and the dating of individual Qumran texts," on-line
at Orion central under "Articles and Papers."
Doudna is quite correct in his statements on the fundamental problems
with dating from paleographic information (pp 1-2). His correctives,
as far as they go, are on track. Only he does not go far enough into
the problem and falls into the EITHER/OR trap himself - hence his single
deposit at 63 BCE theory.
First, we cannot draw conclusions about deposits and/or dates from the
Square Aramaic script family; it is not a script family confined to this
one site or to a small isolated sect (another pigeon-hole preconception
to fit a theory). Scripts do NOT "develop"; they mutate. (Please see Note
33 in the revised article for a more detailed explanation.) There are
very few script classes - but an inordinate number of fonts, that is,
mutations of the class model. With the Square Aramaic we are talking
about a script family, with an uncountable number of fonts and in a be-
wilderingly large number of Script class families, that was used for inter-
national commerce throughout a very large area and was very well known
indeed. Further, while we can know which is the script class, we cannot
say when the script itself was designed; we can only say when a script
family came into popular use. In this case, it became popular among
Jews sometime during the post-exilic period... which is not too helpful
for close dating purposes. The script family found in the DSS can only
be dated to after the 4th century BCE and _probably_ no later than the
2nd century CE.
Second, another problem with the Cross dating scenario is that scripts,
like languages, move towards simplification, NOT towards complexity. One
very serious problem with the Cross table of dating is that the whole
thing is upside down. The script *class* from which all those simpler
fonts descend is that dreadfully misnamed "Herodian." In other words,
the Script, the *class model*, has been stated as a late "development"
when it is the oldest of the entire Jewish Square Aramic family group.
(For some further details on the parent script, please see Part II of
the revised article.)
Further, what is a font (mutation) in common use at one scriptorium at
date 'Y', may have been one of the hierarchy of scripts in use at another
scriptorium at date 'X' - a point which Doudna does address, but does not
go into the fuller implications. Indeed it is this very point that led
to the single deposit theory (Doudna, p. 4).
In order to date from a script and its fonts, we need a continuous record
of the script and its fonts in use at _one_ scriptorium. Even if we had
such a record for these documents, which we do not, the dates would be
good for that _one_ scriptorium, and ONLY for that one scriptorium, and
cannot be applied to any other scriptorium. In "Haserech" we have a clear
font mutation, with at least two different versions of the Font. Scribe
1 writes an older version than the other 3 scribes - BUT we do not know
which scriptorium this was written at or where this scriptorium was located...
nor do we have a date. As Doudna notes, many of those "developments" used
for dating are contemporaneous; this is a point Henry Sweet made back in
1913 - and on a more datable corpus. Now, however, we are to the point
where Doudna stopped and where he fell into the EITHER/OR trap.
NOT all these fonts are contemporaries; they never are - at any time or
at any place. There is a continuum, one which we unfortunately cannot date.
In all cases we must allow 100-125 years on *either* side for any given font.
Are some of the documents a lump deposit around 63 BCE, very likely - from
the silence. Are some of these documents from a deposit around 70 CE? Again,
quite possible. However, there is no reason whatsoever to place the majority
of the DSS documents to any given date on the basis of contemporaneousness.
We are NOT dealing with an EITHER/OR; we are dealing with an AND.
>The real question should be which scrolls were deposited
>when and in what caves. Was it in haste, waste, or storage.
Why the either 'a' OR 'b' OR 'c' when it could be 'a' AND 'b' or in
any combination of the three... not to mention simply left behind by
refugees at a later date. Remember, we have a case of Western Eurocen-
tricity and sentimentalism here. Just because scholars in the West did
not know of the caves does not mean that the locals didn't know - and
they sure did! Found by a shepherd boy? Go check the folktale motifs
book by Aarne-Thompson. Nobody, nobody at all, has looked at the
implications of that breakin through the outer wall of the cave. HOW
did the "vandal" know where the wall was thin enough to break through -
unless he already knew the cave very well....
PS: The only time we find, and will ever find, a "Transitional Stage,"
such as that pronounced by Cross, is under very specific circumstances -
and then only at Official, and Royal scriptoria. There is no such thing
as a general "transitional stage" - it simply does not exist, except as
a catchall invented for the intractables.
Dr. Rochelle I. Altman, co-coordinator IOUDAIOS-L email@example.com
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