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Re: orion-list Sunday Times article on 'new scroll'
We can agree, I assume, that the burden of proof concerning the new
scroll claim is on those who say they have evidence that it is genuine. The
press reports have been less than internally consistent; Stephen Pfann's
report was helpful; but they have been given limited access, apparently. I
have not made up my mind.
Since the reports vary, the provenance story is additionally
unclear. The Benedictine monk pseudonym has varied, possibly (?) because of
a mix-up with a real monk near Kiel, close to Denmark. But the claimed
monastery is said to be close to Austria (say, Weingarten?). The name
Matthias Gunther [umlaut u] is of an actual scholar, but a young man, not
one born in 1925 or 6, and whose funeral was in September 1996. If there
was such a monk, it will become evident. The order (OSB) publishes a full
directory, with necrologies, every five years. If there were such a person,
it could help clarify the provenance story, but that alone would not prove
there is a scroll; if there was no such monk, the story is to be rejected.
The use of a pseudonym surely does not add credibility. The monk's friend's
(actual?) name is given as Steve Daniels. Again, there is such an author,
coauthor of The Archaeology Workbook, 1982 (Edinburgh U.; U. Penn.). Anyone
If the scroll is about 2 meters or 6 feet long and has 1000 lines
of text, that is unusual. Using the numbers given by Tov in his chapter in
The Bible as Book (1998), a typical Qumran scroll with that many lines
would be much longer.
I had been under the impression (perhaps mistakenly) that the date
given was based on paleography. Now C14 is mentioned as (wholly or partly?)
first century. I'd guess, if this text is real, it's post second temple
period. "Shel" is not unknown; it's in MMT. The angel name does not
necessarily link with pneumos. Pediah is a common Bible name. But the use
of so many names seems either unattested or late (whether 2nd, 3rd, 4th
century or 1990s). The concentration not only of names but of diverse
subjects of modern interest is odd. The spring--which is sometimes located
in the Lisan--on (top of?) the elusive Mount Makur...
The newborn's mind, via simile, not being like a "clean slate." The
Hebrew words-- lw)x hxlq --are no problem (these I can see, though some
words in Jerusalem Report in red ink on a gold background are unclear.)
Certainly the tabula rasa was a real physical presence, and the tablet even
has metaphorical usage noted in Jastrow. But how far back before John Locke
does the image of a newborn mind as (or, here, not as) a clean slate go? I
don't know. OED has a characterization of Aristotle using this, but in
On the other hand, I would expect scrolls to show up sometime east
of the Dead Sea. The climate that preserved some to the west should work to
the east. Already we have Babatha, reported Qazone papyri, and further off,
Petra papyri. Jews were a longtime presence in Peraea, according to Adam
Porter's Transjordanian Jews in the Greco-Roman Period...(Duke PhD 1999).
Epiphanius located groups such as Ossenes in Jordan, eventually reading
books such as the Revelation of Elchasai. Stephen Pfann reported that the
text he was given helped him restore a DSS passage. A new find could have
surprises. So far, the people claiming they have an ancient scroll text, in
my opinion, have not made their case.
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