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orion-list "case for 63 BCE," Doudna, Qumran Chronicle
Gregory L. Doudna wrote, in the first of 5 "Conclusions":
"The end of internal references after 63 BCE is total and *permanent*,
without exception." (Qumran Chronicle 8 no. 4 p.88; my **s)
This word "permanent," I suggest, is telling in the case of how this
article presents the scenario that all 900 or so Qumran mss (whether copies
or not) were all deposited in caves no later than 63 BCE. How, dear
readers, can Doudna's declaration there are no post 63 BCE allusions--or
even that he currently apparently recognizes none-- be assuredly
"permanent"? Such a dogmatic statement is emblematic of the circular
reasoning, rejection of evidence, and junk science which, in my opinion,
unfortunately characterizes portions of the article.
There are relatively few personal names in the mss, if we bracket
off Biblical texts. Yet the names include individuals who lived after 63,
including Aemilius. Stegemann, for example, wrote (p.135), "The only thing
certain is that this calendar presupposes the tenure of the governor
Aemilius Scaurus, and therefore must have been written only after 62 BC.
The older of the two copies we have, on the other hand, dates from as early
as the time between 50 and 30 BC, when Hyrcanus II was in office." Among
the names and allusions, some are most probably before and some most
probably after 63. Furthermore, newly-read personal names have been
recognized only in the last few years--similarly with analysis of internal
historical allusions. For example, if I. Knohl's interesting recent Tarbiz
(1998) suggestion that the "son of god" text 4Q246 refers negatively to
Augustus, then that text must date after 1 January 42 when the Senate
declared his father divinized and Octavian then was regarded as divi
filius. Now, there are many other examples, and reasonable people can
interpret some of them in various ways. My point here is that a "permanent"
ban on post-63 BCE allusions is not science nor scholarship nor plausible
history-writing. And what if some creature centuries ago had carried off
from the cave that bit of leather (4Q323) with "Aemilius"--would the
announced "depositation" have been moved back to the next earlier
Hutchesson/Doudna approved name?
Further on names, Doudna offers that pesher Nahum's "lion of wrath"
refers hiddenly to Pompey while his contemporary Aemilius is named openly.
The implausibility of that proposal we can return to another time, but it
should be noted that Doudna's selective history writing omits inconvenient
subjects. Besides C14 data (more than half of which is after 63), and
paleographic dating (including that of Greek mss), and pottery found at
Qumran (datable common pots do not disappear merely because luxury ones
found at palaces are scarce to absent at Qumran), other subjects not
adequately accounted for include the over 1000 burials and the "wicked
priest." The latter is particularly relevant, as it is becoming
increasingly clear (as so many wrote in previous decades) that the "wicked
priest," in the eyes of the Essene Jews of Qumran and elsewhere--Jews whose
history Doudna, Hutchesson and Golb have attempted to erase--was Alexander
Jannaeus. The so-called paean to him (4Q448), for instance, is now
increasing and properly read as a condemnation.
On paleography, I hope others more experienced than I will review
that section. I can note that if Doudna thinks (not necessarily properly)
Cross unduly speeds up development of scripts in Herodian times--how much
more compressed need be such developments be to fit before 63? (And as to
the admitted difficulty of using "herodian" as a dating term in some cases,
Doudna just used it similarly imprecisely to refer to his post 63 proposal
for a Chronicles text that he would acknowledge as actually
Chronicles--though Abegg/Flint/Ulrich present this differently.) I
previously provided bibliography to correct Doudna's earlier
misrepresentation of the paleography/archaeology relation at Gezer; Doudna
still got it wrong. Though, I suppose it is a fair question whether
experienced paleographers or ceramic experts will consider such a task as
reviewing this article worth their time. A pattern is being repeated:
Doudna once exiled all the Qumran inkwells to the 60s CEff (or some such
arbitrary and wrong) dating; then, when that was shown mistaken, he exiled
them all to--what was it?--maybe a hundred, two-hundred years earlier?
Inkwells I have studied: it was quite extraordinary to read the efforts by
Doudna to exclude their evidence from the Qumran scroll history.
It is difficult not to wonder and be amazed at some of the
proposals here. Pesher Nahum is not read by Doudna as referring to
crucifixions by Alexander Jannaeus in 88 BC--which is surely one of the
best-attested and widely-recognized of the historical allusions in the
scrolls--but announced to be crucifixions to be associated with Pompey,
hangings not yet happened but *predicted*! It it simply difficult to take
such a reading seriously.
Some arguments are actually announcements, such as the insistance
that there is no continuity between particluar inhabitations.
Archaeologists have offered that continuity of usage of various loci
indicates a continuity of habitation by the community using those loci.
(One could give references, but if they are up against a "permanent"
rejection front--what's the point?) The blithe dismissal of such
archaeological observations reminds me of a sentence concluding a recent
book review (Jewish Quarterly Review 89  437-8 of a medieval history
book by N. Golb): "I cannot recommend a book so cavalier as to ignore the
important and directly relevant work of other scholars."
Of course more Qumran mss appear to date from the first century BCE
than any other century. This is not exactly news, yet it can help tell us
something about the Essenes, who may have declined, who may have moved some
belongings out from Qumran in the 60s CE, Essenes who may have done any
number of things at Qumran and elsewher that we haven't yet adequately
learned about. Naturally such history becomes clearer with constructive
contributions from many. But historians also must dismiss some offerings,
as for instance the historian Richard Hofstader gave an example in his
essay on the "paranoid style" of history writing.
As I mentioned before, I have spent time lately on a more
interesting and more positive and productive new archaeological
possibility. Thank God more positive work is at hand. In the meantime--by
all means--any who wish to read these two Qumran Chronicle articles, read,
and if any scholar thinks they make a good case for 63 BCE deposit of all
Qumran mss, or any other way one would prefer to characterize these, do
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