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orion-list Cave 4 linen and deposit date

To the list: my last post was sent out inadvertantly with the 
wrong draft of the final paragraph.  The final paragraph should 
have read instead:

"The key issue in the end may be whether the Qumran cave 
deposits are best understood as a single event, or whether
there were multiple cave deposit events over decades or even
centuries.  While certainty may be unattainable, the available 
comparative evidence seems to weigh in favor of a single hiding
event at one date.  The Copper Scroll with its hidings of wealth
in multiple places seems a very relevant comparative parallel--
single-event, isolated areas, multiple hiding spots, Dead Sea 
region . . . just like the Qumran texts in principle except that the
one is gold and silver; the other religious manuscripts (but both 
valuable enough to motivate movement of materials to the
wilderness and a hiding operation).  Compare also the Nag 
Hammadi texts hiding.  Although other reasons are often 
suggested to account for the Qumran cave deposits, are there 
any comparative parallels in support of the other proposals?  
Or are the alternative proposals (e.g. the caves as local lending 
libraries, proto-genizahs, warehouses, etc.) ad hoc, unique, 
without known comparative parallels?  The Qumran cave 
deposits indeed show evidence of disturbed contexts, some 
caves with only jar fragments and no texts (indicating secondary 
intrusions and removals of texts within the past 2000 years).  
But although texts were certainly taken out of some caves, 
there seems neither evidence nor reason to suppose that 
anyone subsequently intentionally or by accident deposited 
additional literary texts into the caves around Qumran.  If the 
texts in the caves are the remains of a hiding operation in a 
time of crisis--an explanation which does seem supported 
in ancient comparative parallels (with the religious texts regarded 
as valuables worth hiding and preserving, like gold and silver)--then 
the AMS Cave 4 linen date perhaps should be considered a 
genuine question for the conventional view of the 68 CE terminus."

Greg Doudna

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