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orion-list 63 BCE

Ian Hutchesson's argument that all of the Qumran texts were 
deposited in the caves no later than 63 BCE will appear in the 
forthcoming Dec 1999 issue of _Qumran Chronicle_.  As many
on this list know, Hutchesson has been prohibited for several
years from discussing his 63 BCE theory on the scholarly
discussion lists on which it would be relevant: this list, ane, 
and ioudaios.  

I also have an article ("The Case for 63 BCE") which will appear 
c. Jan 2000 in _Qumran Chronicle_ which gives my argument for 
the 63 BCE theory.  In this way, through both of our articles, the 
theory will be in print and can be discussed on that basis.  My 
article gives additional discussion of palaeography and radiocarbon 
(both of which I argue are ambiguous in establishing post-63 BCE 
Qumran textual activity) and particularly a treatment of the archaeology
of Qumran (for the issue of the deposit date or dates of the texts is 
fundamentally an archaeological issue).  I argue that there was a 
significant temporal gap between Period Ib and Period II; that there 
was no continuity between Period Ib and II; that all of the text deposits 
are associated exclusively with Period Ib; and that Period Ib can be 
shown independently to have ended most probably about 63 BCE.

Although radiocarbon is the best means for resolving this dating issue
one way or the other, the problem with the existing data is there is
a lack of security that individual datings are free from contamination.
If the dates are accurate the issue would be settled (we would
know there was post-63 BCE textual activity).  But the issue is
whether the dates are accurate.  I believe now I underestimated both 
the incidence and the potential effects on datings of contamination 
of samples in my Flint & Vanderkam 1998 article.  For full discussion 
of this see the forthcoming _Qumran Chronicle_ article, but essentially 
it builds from the information at p. 449n44 in Doudna, "Dating the 
Scrolls on the Basis of Radiocarbon Analysis", Flint & Vanderkam, 
vol I, as well as a separate article in the same volume by Boyd-Alkalay 
& Libman, "Preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran artifacts", 
pp. 535-544.

There are basically four methods of dating the deposits of the Qumran
texts.  The first, internal references, gives an _a quo_ of c. 63 BCE, 
but does not in principle rule out a later deposit date.  The second,
palaeography, is ambiguous (per my discussion) and I see no
realistic hope that palaeographic means will produce a clear
answer on the 63 BCE issue.  The third, radiocarbon, is also
presently ambiguous (per my discussion) but is the best hope
for a clear resolution of the 63 BCE issue.  The fourth, Qumran
archaeology, has a fairly good argument (in my opinion, being
the author of the argument) for the 63 BCE case, but in the
absence of a publication of the excavation in a real sense all of
us who discuss Qumran archaeology aren't playing with a full
deck, and arguments over interpretation can be expected to

For what it is worth, there is little doubt to me at this point that 
the c. 63 BCE theory in some form appears likely to be ultimately
correct, and that the virtually unanimous scholarly consensus of 
the c. 68 CE dating is a mistake.  I think the lengthy duration of the 
68 CE construction in the history of Qumran scholarship can be 
attributed in large part to the lack of a full publication of the excavation

of Qumran for all these years, which allowed in basic ways de Vaux's 
original, flawed interpetations to go without the means for significant 
challenge to them.  

Greg Doudna

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