Saturday, May 07, 2005

Revised Driver Essay

Daniel Driver has posted the final revision (for the course, that is) of his paper on scriptural interpretation in the Damascus Document. Once again, it's in PDF format.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Summary of Jerusalem Archives Seminar

Although as far as I know, Golb has not actually persuaded anyone of his theory, it seems fair to say that his work has made a significant contribution to the field of Qumran studies. He seems to have gotten it wrong in two places in particular:
  • That the Qumran library is not a sectarian collection

    The sectarian nature of the library is hard to get around: there are multiple copies of many sectarian texts and their terminology and content show a web of interconnections that argue strongly at least for a broadly cohesive sectarian movement.

  • That the site of Qumran was a military fortress up to its destruction around 68 C.E.

    I can't comment authoritatively on this, but I can say that no archaeologist has been convinced by his arguments and everyone seems to agree that a fortress would not have left its water supply unsecured in the way we find at Qumran. It's true, however, that archaeologist David Stacey has indicated in an informal Internet essay that he thinks that the site was a military garrison into the early first century B.C.E., although before what he would accept as sectarian occupation. But I have yet to see even this argued in a scholarly monograph or peer-review journal.

That said, we also noted quite a few places where he seems to have gotten it right on some important points that have now become mainstream:
  • The number of scribal hands in the Qumran manuscripts is too many to be explained by local production

    Many, perhaps most of the manuscripts must have been imported from outside the group who were living at Qumran (assuming they were sectarians).

  • There is a surprising lack of autograph copies and "documentary" (i.e., administrative) texts in the Qumran library

    Aside from the Copper Scroll, the only administrative text I can think of is 4Q477, in which some named individual are being rebuked, evident in a context associated with the Rabbim, the Many, a term associated with the Yahad. Perhaps also the "List of Netinim" in 4Q340. At one time the collection of administrative texts in DJD 27 was thought to have come from the Qumran library, but it now seems that they are texts from the Bar Kokhba era. Where are all the sectarian administrative texts?

  • The Copper Scroll is probably a real treasure.

    I think pretty much everyone accepts this nowadays.

There are other, more controversial points on which I think he's made a contribution, even though his view remains against the consensus. For example, I rather like his reading of the Community Rule (1QS) as the rule book of a kind of sectarian association made up of men with families and I think it makes marginally more sense than the usual reading of it as a constitution for a celibate Essene quasi-monastic group living at Qumran.

A couple of other interesting points came up. One student raised the possibility that the Qumran watchtower was garrisoned to keep an eye on the area but the water supply was unprotected because the plan was for the garrison to abandon the site if approaching enemies were sighted. The analogy was with ancient garrisons on the British coastline (often surviving now as churches), which were set up with that purpose. We wondered how close an analogy this was, but since none of us controlled either archaeological discipline, we couldn't get very far with the idea.

Finally, and this seems a fitting question with which to close, we asked why nobody ever came back to get the scrolls. Did everyone who knew about the scrolls deposits really die? Even granting the carnage of the Great Revolt, that seems unlikely. Could the scrolls deposits have been genizot, caches of worn manuscripts that were not intended to be used again? Are other explanations possible? As with so many other questions about the Dead Sea Scrolls, we just don't know.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Summary of Enochic-Essene Theory Seminar

We spent a good deal of this seminar reviewing the basics of Boccaccini's reconstruction of the rise of Essenism and the place of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Essene movement. I will not go through the details here, but you can see an abstract in my online piece "Enochians, Essenes, and Qumran Essenes", which also summarizes some criticisms of Boccaccini's position. And for some theological differences between "Zadokite" and "Enochic" Judaism, see my online paper "Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Christian Apocrypha: (How) Can We Tell Them Apart?". (Scroll down to the section on "The Problem of 'Common Judaism.'")

We also reviewed briefly the basic elements of the "Groningen hypothesis," which are also summarized in my earlier online lecture on the Pesharim.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Abstract of Jerusalem Archives essay

Here is the abstract for the essay on Norman Golb's theory that the Dead Sea Scrolls are not Essene or sectarian, but rather consist of literary archives from Jerusalem:
This paper focuses on an alternative theory to that of the Qumran - Essene hypothesis of the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Instead it looks to the 'radical' theory of Norman Golb, who does not believe there was any connection between the Essenes and the scrolls. Rather Golb argues the scrolls originated in libraries of Jerusalem and were later hidden in the caves at Qumran for safekeeping during the first revolt. Golb fundamentally uses the archaeological evidence from the site of Qumran to refute the Essene theory, and poses instead a view that Khirbet Qumran was at this time a military fortress. In order to prove his own Jerusalem archives theory, Golb looks to the contents of the manuscripts found, number of scribal hands used, the absence of documentary records and autographs, and the location of where the scrolls were hidden. He concludes that the Essene theory is in part based on the order of the manuscripts' discovery, and thus had they been discovered in the reverse order then other scholars would have inevitably reached the same conclusion as him, of the scrolls originating in Jerusalem libraries. There is then a brief overview of other scholars' responses to and critiques of Golb's argument.

Laura Gibb

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Abstract of Boccaccini Essay

Here is the abstract for the essay on Boccaccini's Enochic-Essene hypothesis:
Gabriele Boccaccini's book Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways Between Qumran and Enochic Judaism is a re-examination of the Essene hypothesis and its validity in accounting for the Dead Sea Scrolls. Considering the Essene hypothesis to be broadly accurate, and fundamental disagreement fruitless, Boccaccini instead addresses the inadequacies of certain aspects. While he accepts the relationship between the scrolls and the ruins, the presence of a Qumran sectarian community and the correspondence between Essene beliefs and the scrolls, Boccaccini argues that ideas about the sect's origins and their religious context must be refined. This paper engages with Boccaccini's theory in order to outline the historical context of the Qumran community and to situate the group known as the "Essenes" in second temple Judaism. The evidence for a movement of "Enochians" will be examined and Boccaccini's proposed schism between Enochic factions will be considered as an explanation for the origins of the Qumran group. Finally, potential problems will be addressed in the light of scholarly objections to Boccaccini's Enochic/Essene hypothesis.

Kathleen Burt

Apologies for Qumranica's blogging hiatus. A cold kept me home and relatively unproductive over the long weekend.