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Still Waters

Mystery of Dead Sea Scroll Authors Possibly

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Still Waters
The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written, at least in part, by a sectarian group called the Essenes, according to nearly 200 textiles discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank, where the religious texts had been stored.

Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran, and so the new finding could help clear up this long-standing mystery.

The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration, some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, "penned" some of the scrolls.

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JR.Fury

Interesting stuff!

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walkswithfire

interesting but wrong they probely stole it at that time there where no israel

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questionmark

I don't know why they sell this as news...

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questionmark

interesting but wrong they probely stole it at that time there where no israel

Ah knowledge... so elusive. Essenes were a Jewish cult, and they considered themselves Israelis. But don't let that bother you...

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Myles

Oh great, more assumptions.

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PHFATY

How come they haven't found any other ancient texts written by other natives of the area there? Weren't there Canaanites and Philistines there before? I wonder what happened to their writings.

I don't know about you guys but this smells fishy to me.

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Abramelin

How come they haven't found any other ancient texts written by other natives of the area there? Weren't there Canaanites and Philistines there before? I wonder what happened to their writings.

I don't know about you guys but this smells fishy to me.

Ebla comes to mind:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebla

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encouraged

Early on, partially because of the ability to sensationalize the discoveries (probably for more funding) and partially merely a poor interpretation that we are still having to deal with to today, the place named Qumron, the sect named Essenes, and the caves and scolls found in them were all confused as being inter related.

If one is interested in another interpretation as well as the logic to rid the world of the other, consider reading The Dead Sea Scrolls by La Sur as published by Eerdmans Press .

Edited by encouraged

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DieChecker

How come they haven't found any other ancient texts written by other natives of the area there? Weren't there Canaanites and Philistines there before? I wonder what happened to their writings.

I don't know about you guys but this smells fishy to me.

Maybe because the others in the region were not as paranoid as the ancient israelis were.

Also, I beleive the Romans tended to collect local books where ever they conquored, and send them back to Rome.

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kmt_sesh

Carbon dating has confirmed that most of the samples tested date to around 100 BCE. Paleographic and other factors confirm the full corpus of 930 documents dates between 250 BCE and 50 CE.

Unfortunately the link in the OP isn't working on my end, so I don't know if it's a problem with my connection or something you're all seeing. I apologize if I'm repeating things mentioned in the article Still Waters shared with us.

The preponderance of scholars have always argued that the scrolls were the work of the Essenes, so that's nothing new. But of course there is always dissent and there is no universal agreement on this matter. Some scholars like G. R. Driver and Chaim Rabin believe the sect known as the Zealots wrote and stashed the scrolls; the Zealots were the Jews who rose up against the Romans and ended their lives at Masada. Norman Golb from the University of Chicago argued that the scrolls were actually from the library of the Jerusalem temple, a scenario which has gained little acceptance, for obvious reasons. And then there are any number of kooky fringe and alternative scenarios.

I would favor the Essenes, myself. Archaeology conducted through the years at Khirbet Qumran largely corroborates this plausibility, though not completely (Josephus, for instance, wrote that the Essenes were celibate, yet the Qumran cemetery has revealed numerous burials of women). What is known of the Essenes from the writings of late antiquity together with the content of the scrolls, seems overall to mesh quite well.

Incidentally, the shores of the Dead Sea are literally riddled with caves, and caves to the north and south of Qumran have yielded numerous other ancient scrolls. Analyses of them reveal that few of these others would've been written by the Essenes, but other ancient Jews left plentiful examples of their own presence there.

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third_eye

one thing i am confused with the C14 dates, does the results date the material the texts were written on or the texts itself? Given the plus minus factor of accuracy, what is the possibility of the scrolls being produced/manufactured and stored/stockpiled for a number of years before written on or stored?

That is also taking into consideration the time it took to reproduce/copy the collection of the contents/texts from region to region and of course time to time.

None of the studies i've encountered so far have given much attention to the methods or process of making the media.

In ancient China a batch of paper might take as much as years to get from production to the time it was used. Some paper being of great quality and rarity might even be stored for a generation or more before it was used.

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kmt_sesh

one thing i am confused with the C14 dates, does the results date the material the texts were written on or the texts itself? Given the plus minus factor of accuracy, what is the possibility of the scrolls being produced/manufactured and stored/stockpiled for a number of years before written on or stored?

That is also taking into consideration the time it took to reproduce/copy the collection of the contents/texts from region to region and of course time to time.

None of the studies i've encountered so far have given much attention to the methods or process of making the media.

In ancient China a batch of paper might take as much as years to get from production to the time it was used. Some paper being of great quality and rarity might even be stored for a generation or more before it was used.

Some of the C14 dating was performed on organic materials found in the caves alongside the scrolls (e.g., textiles and foodstuffs), while in other cases it was the scrolls themselves that were subjected to C14 dating. I can't speak for texts from ancient China because that's outside my field of study, but in the case of Khirbet Qumran the vast majority of the scrolls were written on parchment (a small percentage were written on papyrus and one text was inscribed into copper).

These scrolls represent the library of the Qumran community and nothing in their community was of greater value. Much of the activity in the settlement would've been of a scribal nature. Parchment was expensive and in an arid desert environment they weren't about to let it sit around for ages, to dry out and crack. The texts found in the eleven different caves adjacent to Khirbet Qumran represent the timespan I cited earlier (250 BCE and 50 CE), but certainly not all have been carbon dated. Samples have undergone several different series of tests, and like I said, the tested samples average to 100 BCE. Carbon dating is now an exacting science and I highly doubt any of the samples that have undergone more recent testing would be off by more than 20 to 50 years.

It's entirely possible that some of the caves were used as a longterm storage facility. These would've been the scrolls found carefully stored in well-sealed jars. Archaeologists have found well-worn, ancient paths leading from the settlement to the caves. However, of the 930 documents found in the eleven caves, 500 of them came from Cave 4. What is evident in Cave 4 is the panicked and hurried nature of the storage. It wasn't intended to be longterm. Almost none of these documents were found in jars. Instead, they had been deposited exposed and unprotected all over the cave's floor. This is why so many of the scrolls in Cave 4 are in such a fragmentary condition.

The theory is that the Qumran community was panicking, most likely because the Romans were advancing toward the Dead Sea. This would've been the first Jewish revolt (66-70 CE). The community quickly gathered up its most precious documents--its scrolls--and hurriedly deposited them in Cave 4. Most likely they intended to return but never did. There is some evidence that Essenes may have been at Masada with the Zealots who took their own lives rather than surrender to the Romans, but whatever the case, both the Essenes and the Qumran community ceased to exist right at this time. This is another factor tying the Essenes to the Qumran community.

I think the C14 dating alone is definitive. Scholars who specialize in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls more or less universally agree on the dating, even if not all of them agree on the exact identify of the inhabitants of Khirbet Qumran. Yes, indeed, the scrolls may have been copied and recopied and some of them stored in the caves for many years, but they still all fall between 250 BCE and 50 CE. Paleographic, linguistic, and archaeological evidence serve only to bolster the veracity of the C14 findings.

I'm editing to add something I should have added earlier, which is a couple of book recommendations germane to this topic. One of the most acclaimed and respected is Jodi Magness's The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2002). A somewhat lighter and well-illustrated book I enjoyed is The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls, by Philip Davies, George Brooke, and Phillip Callaway (2002). I realize the years of publication might be different from the links I'm providing, but I'm only going by the editions I have in my own library. A visit to Amazon reveals any number of translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the publication by Penguin Classics, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, is very good. Lastly, I'm quite a fan of the audio lectures produced by The Teaching Company, and there's an excellent lecture series on the Dead Sea Scrolls given by the noted scholar Gary Rendsburg. ;)

Edited by kmt_sesh

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third_eye

~byte save snip~

I'm editing to add something I should have added earlier, which is a couple of book recommendations germane to this topic. One of the most acclaimed and respected is Jodi Magness's The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2002). A somewhat lighter and well-illustrated book I enjoyed is The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls, by Philip Davies, George Brooke, and Phillip Callaway (2002). I realize the years of publication might be different from the links I'm providing, but I'm only going by the editions I have in my own library. A visit to Amazon reveals any number of translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the publication by Penguin Classics, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, is very good. Lastly, I'm quite a fan of the audio lectures produced by The Teaching Company, and there's an excellent lecture series on the Dead Sea Scrolls given by the noted scholar Gary Rendsburg. ;)

Thanks for the list Sesh man, tip top too as keeping to form and fit, fancy heels to you ol'chap

~i bow~

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questionmark

Some of the C14 dating was performed on organic materials found in the caves alongside the scrolls (e.g., textiles and foodstuffs), while in other cases it was the scrolls themselves that were subjected to C14 dating. I can't speak for texts from ancient China because that's outside my field of study, but in the case of Khirbet Qumran the vast majority of the scrolls were written on parchment (a small percentage were written on papyrus and one text was inscribed into copper).

These scrolls represent the library of the Qumran community and nothing in their community was of greater value. Much of the activity in the settlement would've been of a scribal nature. Parchment was expensive and in an arid desert environment they weren't about to let it sit around for ages, to dry out and crack. The texts found in the eleven different caves adjacent to Khirbet Qumran represent the timespan I cited earlier (250 BCE and 50 CE), but certainly not all have been carbon dated. Samples have undergone several different series of tests, and like I said, the tested samples average to 100 BCE. Carbon dating is now an exacting science and I highly doubt any of the samples that have undergone more recent testing would be off by more than 20 to 50 years.

It's entirely possible that some of the caves were used as a longterm storage facility. These would've been the scrolls found carefully stored in well-sealed jars. Archaeologists have found well-worn, ancient paths leading from the settlement to the caves. However, of the 930 documents found in the eleven caves, 500 of them came from Cave 4. What is evident in Cave 4 is the panicked and hurried nature of the storage. It wasn't intended to be longterm. Almost none of these documents were found in jars. Instead, they had been deposited exposed and unprotected all over the cave's floor. This is why so many of the scrolls in Cave 4 are in such a fragmentary condition.

The theory is that the Qumran community was panicking, most likely because the Romans were advancing toward the Dead Sea. This would've been the first Jewish revolt (66-70 CE). The community quickly gathered up its most precious documents--its scrolls--and hurriedly deposited them in Cave 4. Most likely they intended to return but never did. There is some evidence that Essenes may have been at Masada with the Zealots who took their own lives rather than surrender to the Romans, but whatever the case, both the Essenes and the Qumran community ceased to exist right at this time. This is another factor tying the Essenes to the Qumran community.

I think the C14 dating alone is definitive. Scholars who specialize in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls more or less universally agree on the dating, even if not all of them agree on the exact identify of the inhabitants of Khirbet Qumran. Yes, indeed, the scrolls may have been copied and recopied and some of them stored in the caves for many years, but they still all fall between 250 BCE and 50 CE. Paleographic, linguistic, and archaeological evidence serve only to bolster the veracity of the C14 findings.

I'm editing to add something I should have added earlier, which is a couple of book recommendations germane to this topic. One of the most acclaimed and respected is Jodi Magness's The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2002). A somewhat lighter and well-illustrated book I enjoyed is The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls, by Philip Davies, George Brooke, and Phillip Callaway (2002). I realize the years of publication might be different from the links I'm providing, but I'm only going by the editions I have in my own library. A visit to Amazon reveals any number of translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the publication by Penguin Classics, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, is very good. Lastly, I'm quite a fan of the audio lectures produced by The Teaching Company, and there's an excellent lecture series on the Dead Sea Scrolls given by the noted scholar Gary Rendsburg. ;)

Thanks for the list Sesh man, tip top too as keeping to form and fit, fancy heels to you ol'chap

~i bow~

Besides that there i http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/, where many of the scrolls are on-line.

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encouraged

Being an author and formally a publisher of scholarly academic text books and monographs, allows me to point out that the article has its problems. Those problems impact the value of the article.

Although I was glad to see the information getting out into the public, it concerned me that the tasks of authorship, writing, and penning the scrolls all became synonymous and referred to as if just one task. Naturally as a publisher I am sensitive to that. However, that is like saying that in today's world, I authored, edited, and published my own book. Typically each is a profession unto itself. Back then even more so.

Now as to the archaeological matters. My only credentials are my youthful desires to be an archaeologist--my brother talked me out of that, as did the accident I was in--a life-long interest in the history, digs, and interpretations of the area; being a member of SIL International, and trained in applied linguistics. Thus, a far reach from the abilities of kmt_sesh! (And I am really glad he contributed here, as I didn't feel qualified. He knew our interests and what he has said is, I would imagine, up to date.)

I am a proponent of less strict interpretations, however, especially when facts are few, and consensus has been hard coming. Using Qumran as an example. I do not see it as a Essene settlement, but as an industrial community with a great deal of Essene influence.

This affects the interpretation of things, like the well-worn trails to the nearby caves. Passing through a community to reach a destination is what we all do when we travel. To say the location is an Essene community diminishes the interpretive choices of the path to the caves. One has to deal with Questions like, "Would they allow travelers into and through their community?" "Would they allow them to travel to the caves?" "If not, why is the path so well worn?" "Is the purpose of the community to produce scrolls and protect the path to their storage?"

I interpret the site as a money making enterprise based on the pottery trade, as located where the resources needed are found in abundance, as located close to a regional trade route, and a large city where all kinds of things can be purchased. Thereby, making the trip to getting the vessels also a trip to filling them with goods others will want on your return or at your final destination if originating from the south and heading east. Thereby, saving you the burden of carrying the vessels from one's point of origin (Saudi Arabia, perhaps). So the articles you brought from the south are delivered to Jerusalem and the articles you plan to sell in the east or south, are bought in Jerusalem. As a trader heading east or south, you want to trade olive oil and wine. They need containers which you buy in Qumran along the way.

Also, the industry has a clientele in Jerusalem.

The above explains the presence of both women, the presence of a normal industrial community, and an Essene subculture. An abundance of celibate men works out fine and are needed for the hard work involved in pottery making. As well, media preparation, writing implements in rooms occupied by scribes, all nested and somewhat hidden in a industrial community that needs them, is ideal as well.

I favor an interpretation more akin to ordinary life, but I am not well versed, and do not know if this fits with the details ordinary Joe Q. Public seldom gets to enjoy knowing!

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kmt_sesh

Besides that there i http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/, where many of the scrolls are on-line.

Excellent resource, questionmark. Rendsburg mentions this website in his lecture series and I completely forgot about it. Thanks for the link. I've saved it to my Favorites. :tu:

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third_eye

Besides that there i http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/, where many of the scrolls are on-line.

Thanks a bunch for the linkie dink QM

:tu:

Such a shame that a lot of the original batch of first located scrolls were all fragmented due to poor handling in the early days ...

Wonder if anyone ever did managed to patch them back together again.

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