Monday, March 14, 2005

Calendrical Texts Abstract

Here is the abstract for our first seminar tomorrow:
The calendrical texts found at Qumran are diverse in their content, including summaries of the movements of the heavenly bodies (4Q317), details of the priestly duty rotas for the Temple to which they may have expected to return (4Q320-330, elaborations of apocryphal texts involving calendrical issues (4Q208-211), and even horoscopes (4Q186 and 561). This essay aims to detail some of the content and issues relating to these texts and to examine further the issues around the correlation of the various calendars and the observable passing of time, and the problems that the differing calendars may have created and solved during the period. The issue of intercalation for the Qumran community seems to have been dealt with in some respect, but to what extent remains unknown. The text of 4Q319 may have some bearing on this, and will be discussed here. The idea that calendrical issues may also have had some bearing on the origins of any Qumran group that may have left the Jerusalem Temple cult will also be examined to some degree, including perhaps the most famous reference in 1QpHabxi to the pursuit of the Teacher of Righteousness by the Wicked Priest on the Day of Atonement. The conclusions to which the paper can come regarding these complicated issues are few, but the enlightenment gained from the calendrical texts on the ways in which the writers of the texts ‘passed their time’ are great.

Benjamin Taylor