Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Thinking about Hirschfeld Still

No, I'm not being sentimental...I don't know the guy. Having read his article (see first post on the article), I'm still trying to think of possible provenances for the scrolls. Here are the unorganized thoughts running through my head on the matter:

1. Whatever their source, we need to come up with an explanation of why there were so many scrolls. Bringing them from Jerusalem makes sense; they would have a lot. Having them produced by a sectarian community makes sense, if it was around long enough (though Hirschfeld argues against this understanding of Qumran). Whoever did this had lots of manpower/scribepower and lots of parchment, and that wouldn't be cheap. So any theory has to keep this in mind: you need a group big enough to pull off something like this.

2. Do the scrolls not "seem sectarian" to anyone else? Yes, that was perhaps the most subjective thing I've ever said, but others have noted the same. If they are "sectarian", why would they be from Jerusalem? Sure, the library there would probably have works in it that didn't fit the mainstream of the sect rulership, but is the collection too sectarian?

3. I really want the answer to be "Yes, they are from Jerusalem." It is of much more historical value (to me) to have writings from the mainstream, since we really don't have enough yet. Unfortunately, archaeological truth does not bow to my whim (maybe I could make by forging something...just kidding). But Hirschfeld's thesis would be great if it were true (and may be).

4. If you do separate the DSS from the Essenes, who do you attach them to? Were they produced by any particular sect? No, yes? Which one? This would be significant.

5. There is a large proportion of non-Hebrew Bible scrolls to Hebrew Bible scrolls. One professor in seminary (who is in general a very intelligent fellow) called the Pseudepigrapha the tabloid literature of the Second Temple Period. If the DSS scrolls are not indicative of a single sect, then such a position would be terribly difficult to hold. I don't really buy it anyway, but such would be even harder to hold given Hirschfeld's thesis.

Those are all my thoughts for now, which is good, because I have to go to work!


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