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Re Mr. Golb, I presume..., was Re: Multiplicity of Scribal Hands
On Tue, 29 Oct 1996, Robert Kraft wrote:
> After my undergrad DSS class the other day, one of the senior
> associates, Al Perlstein, and I were thinking out loud about possible
> ways to explain the multiplicity of "scribal hands" represented in the
> DSS. It occurred to us that if there were a community with a time-bound
> rite of passage for its members (whether as part of a training period,
> or connected with entry to a particular "office" in the community, for
> example) ....
Of course there is Norman Golb's explanation - that the scrolls did not
come from the small community of sectarians, but represents either the
library of the temple or the collected manuscripts of many Jerusalemites.
The number of scribal hands and the absence of authographs are some of the
central points of Golb's thesis.
I must say (respectfully, very respectfully) that the notion of "one
time copiers" sounds a bit forced. If the Qumranites practiced it, they
must have been singular people indeed, since otherwise it is clear that
the scribal profession was a rather rear skill. Nothing in their texts
suggests "novice-copier" scenario - in fact, if I remember correctly,
another one of Golb's points is that there are no references to scribal
activity of any sort in the DSS.
Taking into account that such texts as Serech Ha-Yachad give quite a lot
of details about what is expected of a novice, the lack of reference to
scribal activity is hardly encouraging for the scenario proposed.
In addition, from looking at the beautifully formed writing on most of the
scrolls, the ability to produce such writing strikes me as something
likely to be attained through years of practice. Perhaps some learned
paleographer on the list can offer a more authoritative opinion on this
matter. Or perhaps the question could be decided by separating the
different writings into those of possible novices and those of learned
scribes? In any case, I would certainly assume that, based on the "look"
and consistency of the writing a knowledgeable person could estimate the
amount of experience behind the pen, and, therefore, judge the possibility
of "one time only" scribes.