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Re: One Thousand Scribes
> consider (critical work still remains to be done!):
> 4Q174 and 4Q159?
> 4Q259 and 4Q319 (or the same ms?)
> 4Q276 and 4Q493 (this is a sure thing in my estimation)
> 4Q280 and 5Q11 and 4Q390
> 4Q397 and 4Q471a(?)
> Sl110 and 4Q463
> 4Q327 and 4Q394 (or same ms?)
> 4Q491 I have decided is actually 3 mss of the same hand (4Q491 causes me to
> consider that there may be numerous mss that are actually 2 or more
> fragmentary works copied by the same scribe).
> Martin Abegg
> Director, Dead Sea Scrolls Institute
> Trinity Western University
Excellent, Martin! This is progress! I looked at
the Brill photos for 4Q259 (4QSe)
and 4Q319 (Otot) and the hands certainly look alike.
Uwe Glessmer's post suggesting a calendar section
appeared in a particular position in an exemplar of the
Community Rule corresponding to 1QS 10 is also
interesting. (But can this suggestion be established beyond
conjecture, Uwe Glessmer?)
In my dreams I see one day a pattern-recognition program
for Qumran palaeography. An image of a given letter, say
an aleph, would be entered and the program would hum and
purr for a moment, then spit out a list of ancient Dead
Sea texts and inscriptions with similar shapes of alephs.
More letters could be entered. If police labs can
identify fingerprints, why cannot the same pattern-matching
technology be used for Qumran palaeography? There would
still be fuzziness and need for expert judgement, but the
sheer data-crunching and the collation of similar patterns
could be automated instead of the present Dark Ages of
hit-or-miss palaeography based on human RAM from memory
of Brill photos.
A final comment on the implications of the large number of
scribes represented in the Qumran texts: let us get OUT of
our heads this notion of a community _writing its own texts_,
whether at Qumran or anywhere else. That is not what the
material evidence of these many scribes and so few duplicate
works indicates! What is in evidence is the remains of a
collection, a library, in which texts were
purchased or obtained from other sources. Someone collected
copies of many things. The contents of this collection may
well yield much information about the interests of the owner(s)
of this library. But the picture I see is a collection over
a period of time from many sources, and then a one-time
stash of this library in the caves at Qumran as a hiding.
There is no reason at all to locate this library at Qumran
_prior_ to the deposition of the texts in the caves. This is
one of those logical leaps that simply does not logically
One of the Qumran texts in the caves explicitly tells of a
hiding of resources from Jerusalem and gives a first-person
reference which may help identify who was behind the whole thing.
I refer to 3Q15 3.9 and the hiding of "my garments", which
appears to point to a high priest from Jerusalem.