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Reply to S. Goranson
>From Stephen Goranson:
> Dear Greg,
> I find some of your posts quite informative and others confusing. Thanks for
> the former. As for the latter: Is Jerusalem the "obvious" source of
> Qumran mss? No.
Would you care to give a reason or two for the "No"?
Does your "no" include the Copper Scroll, or are you
certain on all others but the Copper Scroll? Why is
the nearest urban, literary center and headquarters
of the state which may have built and ran
Qumran not an obvious
suspect for a source point for an unexplained cache
of an enormous quantity of texts beyond any ability
of Qumran to generate on-site? I do not mean to
claim more for Jerusalem than "obvious suspect".
The huge variety of scribal hands actually argues
also against Jerusalem as the only origin point for
the scrolls--but where and why was the collecting
Why do you denigrate scenarios? Don't historians
> ineluctably pursue the most plausible reconstructions? Isn't it a
A few around here try hard not to do so, but I'm a slow
learner so partly agree with you. The 68 CE
scroll deposit scenario, and the Essene/scrolls scenario
(which can be considered distinct arguments) have merits
and I don't mean to dispute that. The issue is whether
it is legitimate to consider these scenarios "knowledge".
> I am confused about Fred Cryer's repeated posts claiming some disconnect
> between the settlement dates at Qumran and the AMS mss dating. He implies
> you're with him on this puzzling conclusion.
I certainly see a direct connection between the settlement at Qumran
and the scrolls in the caves. The jars and the other assemblage
in the caves come from the site at Qumran--that is clear
enough. I don't see any conflict between AMS dates and
the period Qumran was active (though several dates could
Do you not accept the AMS
> dates as given in 'Atiqot 1996 which includes first century of the
> common era dates?
Radiocarbon information may be the best means
available to get real information on the
first-century CE issue. The Zurich date on 1QHymns
appeared first century CE and several
Tucson dates appear first century CE. There are two
problems in drawing conclusions from present information
however. First is a practical problem: the Tucson dates
show indisputable shifts "forward" (that is, radiocarbon
dates appearing "younger" than true dates) in their
measurements in several known cases (speaking minimally
of the internally-dated samples). The second problem
is a method problem with limited amounts of data. The
bell-curve phenomenon will predict that some
radiocarbon dates on some texts will fall slightly later
than the point "Y" of the date of deposit of
the texts, simply on grounds of probability. What must
be done is to take those texts, such as 1QH and two or
three from Tucson, and test those texts a second and
third time independently in further rounds, to see if
these are really first-century CE dates or rather the
product of random scatter. This is not an argument
against existing radiocarbon data; it is an argument
for the need for more data. I will have more to say on the
interpretation of existing Zurich and Tucson data in
two articles in preparation.
> I must have missed something, but what precisely are you claiming and
> asking about your two dates of 62 BCE and 68 CE?
> Again, thanks for the good parts. Sincerely,
> Stephen Goranson UNC-Wilmington
The issue is the date "Y" when the texts went into the
caves, or more precisely the last date texts went
into the Qumran caves. 68 CE is the latest possible date
for "Y", i.e. it is the
"ad quem", for reasons cited by De Vaux long ago (in
which the "scrolls jars" precede the 68 CE destruction
at Qumran). I cited 62 BCE as an "a quo", earliest
possible, because of the 4QMish(c) text which
contains a reference to a Roman governor of that date.
Presumably the "a quo" can be moved forward from 62 BCE.
My question was how far forward on the basis of secure evidence.
The 68 CE scenario is not, e.g., a scenario Josephus knows
anything about. And in the huge quantity of these texts,
there seems to be no allusion or reference
to a single 1st CE figure or historical event. Like
Sherlock Holmes' reference to hearing the dog that
didn't bark, these are the kinds of things that
raised the question to me. I hope there has been more
information than confusion here. All the best,