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orion-list Copper Scroll/ 1st BCE dating
I second the sense of R. Gmirkin's analysis on the dating
of the Copper Scroll, and add this: on palaeography of Cross in
DJD III (c. 25-75 CE), as I note in a forthcoming publication, all
of Cross's comparative parallels for writing features in the Copper
Scroll were from Herodian-era ossuaries. Cross had nothing from
pre-Herodian ossuaries for comparison. Cross noted some
"older" and some Herodian-era form agreements. But there
is nothing in Cross's comparative data in DJD III that shows
any of the Herodian-era agreements did not also exist in the
1st century BCE pre-Herodian. In other words, Cross was citing
comparative agreements (Herodian era) but that is not enough:
to do pinpoint precision typological dating one must have
terminus a quo information. One can do this to c. quarter-
century precision for the start of bow-spouted Herodian lamps
(i.e. they start appearing late reign of Herod the Great or
early years CE), because that is based on multiple sites with
stratigraphy; there is a database justifying that conclusion.
But there is nothing comparable in the 1st BCE-1st CE that
permits terminus a quo information for script types for
palaeographic dating this way.
The palaeographic date estimate c. 25-75 CE of DJD III has
been widely regarded as foundational, as if it is a fact from
which all other analysis must proceed. It must be considered
that there is something amiss with an estimate in which
25-75 CE are considered the outer extreme limits of the
possible dating, but an ad quem of 68 CE is admitted to be
overly precise. The palaeographic date estimate of DJD III
cannot be granted weight in dating the Copper Scroll to the
1st century CE as opposed to 1st century BCE. Neither can
the Copper Scroll be radiocarbon dated. The only means of
dating the composition and production of the copy and
its subsequent deposit in Cave 3 is through analysis of its
archaeological find circumstances and associations and its
internal references. I wonder if 4Q523 "4QJonathan"
published by Puech in DJD XXV (1998) may possibly be of
interest here. Not only is there a reading of "Jonathan"
(= Alexander Jannaeus?--on analogy with "Jonathan the
king" of 4Q448) in a broken context in line 2 apparently
indicating battle or war, but in lines 9 and 11 Puech's
"dans] ses [ma]gasins des tresors . . ." (the stores of treasures)
"pour le depot (?) des bie[ns . . ." (for the deposit of goods)
Puech does not suggest a Copper Scroll connection (and
Puech also argues that "Jonathan" is the earlier Jonathan
Maccabaeus). Furthermore the readings are very difficult
and fragmentary. Nevertheless it is a shot in the dark--is
there something here relevant to the Copper Scroll?
After all, as Gmirkin notes, it was Alexander Jannaeus that
the rabbis associated with "Kochla(it)", the most common
toponym in the Copper Scroll . . .
(and best wishes to Avital)
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