Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
Please Support Us!
Donate with PayPal!
November Goal: $40.00
Due Date: Nov 30
Gross Amount: $25.00
PayPal Fees: $1.58
Net Balance: $23.42
Below Goal: $16.58

November Donations
7th Anonymous $20.00
5th Anonymous $5.00
Linked Events
  • Dead Sea Scroll Lecture: October 04, 2006
  • Dead Sea Scrolls story: October 11, 2006
  • Dead Sea Scrolls lectures: October 18, 2006
  • Dead Sea Scrolls lectures: October 25, 2006
  • DNA and the Dead Sea Scrolls: November 01, 2006
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4  All   Go Down
This topic has not yet been rated!
You have not rated this topic. Select a rating:
Author Topic: The Dead Sea Scrolls  (Read 3598 times)
Description: Probably the only contemporaneous records of early 'christianity'
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Platinum Member

Karma: 143

Posts: 1768

View Profile
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2006, 12:35:52 AM »

It just doesn't seem all that reasonable to have to walk nearly half a mile for the daily constitutional. The time involved is probably 15 minutes at a minimum, and what provision is made for illness according to historic record? I would presume other arrangements were made for the more frequent daily bladder relief, but I don't recall that ever being mentioned specifically.

Was this the only location tested? Perhaps there is another reason entirely that this are contained the apparent residue. Some possibilities come to mind, such as an outdoor classroom nearby. Sixty years is a long time to have progressed so (seemingly) little in the big picture here.

- Bart

Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
Platinum Member

Karma: 143

Posts: 1768

View Profile
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2007, 02:54:00 AM »

As I suspected, a toilet inside the 'compound' is now mentioned.

 - Bart

Ancient latrine fuels debate at Qumran

By MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press Writer

Tue 2 Jan 2007,

QUMRAN, West Bank -

     Researchers say their discovery of a 2,000-year-old toilet at one of the world's most important archaeological sites sheds new light on whether the ancient Essene community was home to the authors of many of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

     In a new study, three researchers say they have discovered the outdoor latrine used by the ancient residents of Qumran, on the barren banks of the Dead Sea. They say the find proves the people living here two millennia ago were Essenes, an ascetic Jewish sect that left Jerusalem to seek proximity to God in the desert. (No, it doesn't prove they were Essenes, it proves people used this area as a latrine. - Bart)

     Qumran and its environs have already yielded many treasures: the remains of a settlement with an aqueduct and ritual baths, ancient sandals and pottery, and the Dead Sea Scrolls ? perhaps the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century.

     The scrolls, which include fragments of the books of the Old Testament and treatises on communal living and apocalyptic war, have shed important light on Judaism and the origins of Christianity.

     Thanks to an Israeli anthropologist, an American textual scholar and a French paleo-parasitologist, researchers can now add another find: human excrement.

     The discovery is more significant than it may seem. The nature of the settlement at Qumran is the subject of a lively academic debate.

     The traditional view, supported by a majority of scholars since the site was first excavated in the 1950s, is that the settlement was inhabited by Essene monks who observed strict rules of ritual purity and celibacy and who wrote many of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

     The second school says the people living at Qumran were farmers, potters or soldiers, and had nothing to do with the Essenes. The scrolls, according to this view, were written in Jerusalem and stashed in caves at Qumran by Jewish refugees fleeing the Roman conquest of the city in the first century.

     The researchers behind the latrine finding, which is being published in the scholarly journal "Revue de Qumran," say it supports the traditional view linking the residents of Qumran with the Essenes.

     A description of Essene practice by the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius in the first century notes that Essene rules required them to distance themselves from inhabited areas to defecate and "dig a trench a foot deep" which was to then be covered with soil.

     Joe Zias, a Jerusalem-based anthropologist, and James Tabor, a Dead Sea Scrolls expert from the University of North Carolina, decided to look for the Qumran latrine. If it was far from the settlement ruins and if the excrement was buried, it would offer evidence the people living at the site were Essenes.

     Zias and Tabor identified an area behind a rock outcropping, took soil samples and sent them to Stephanie Harter-Lailheugue, a French scientist specializing in ancient parasites. The samples tested positive for pinworms and two other intestinal parasites found only in human feces. Samples from locations nearer the settlement tested negative.

     The excrement traces were found underground ? meaning the feces had been buried, as required by Essene law ? a nine-minute walk uphill from the settlement.

     "A lot of people were concerned with what went into the body, but the Essenes were perhaps the only group in antiquity concerned with what came out," Zias said. "No one else would have gone to the trouble of walking this far."

     Still, there is no way to date the fecal parasites, which could have been left by Bedouin who are known to have inhabited the area. To counter this, the paper quotes a Bedouin scholar as saying the nomadic tribespeople do not bury their feces.

     Another problem is that archaeologists have already identified a toilet at Qumran ? inside the settlement. But Zias believes it was for emergencies: In some cases, divine commandments notwithstanding, nine minutes outside the camp was too far to go.

     Norman Golb, a history professor at the University of Chicago and a critic of the link between Qumran and the Essenes, called the new paper "an outrageous claim."

     "There's no plausible connection between what they found and the conclusion that the Essenes lived at Qumran," Golb said. "Anyone living at the site would have done the same."

     Golb maintains that Qumran's residents had nothing to do with the Essenes or the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those who claim a connection do so because "they're committed in their writings to it," Golb said.

     Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Stephen Pfann, of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said questions about the parasites' age have to be cleared up, but the find is potentially significant.

     Qumran, he says, could have been inhabited at different times by different groups: first by Jews of the Hasmonean dynasty in the second century, then by a monastic group of Essenes who left after an earthquake and were replaced by a lay group of Essene date farmers, then again by Essene ascetics, before being finally taken over by Jewish rebels fighting the Roman legions and abandoned when Judea fell.

     "Qumran isn't one thing, it's many things," Pfann said. "This makes it more exciting, but also more complicated to understand."


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2007, 03:33:04 AM »

What was an Essene? And on what sources could one base an honest answer? Josephus? Roman Christians of later centuries, claiming to be reporting hearsay? Maybe we could just call them the religious arm of the sicarii, the Zealots.

The scrolls, which include fragments of the books of the Old Testament and treatises on communal living and apocalyptic war...

This is a classic: how to use facts to tell a lie. Or, 'the sins of omission can be greater than those of commission'.

For the decades in which the ?cole Biblique (the Dominicans of the Inquisition) controlled access to the scrolls, the thrust of their collective arguments was that they were written prior to the times referred to in the NT, i.e. the birth of so-called Christianity. It was to hide the untruth of this spurious claim that they needed control of their translation and interpretation.

Yes, there are scrolls of the OT, but some are definitely of the period immediately prior to and maybe of the First Jewish Revolt. It is this that makes them so profoundly important: some of the scrolls are contemporary to, by and about NT characters. Unlike those of the NT, most of which are works of fiction, they have not been tampered with - they come to us direct.

Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Stephen Pfann, of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem...     Qumran, he says, could have been inhabited at different times by different groups: first by Jews of the Hasmonean dynasty in the second century, then by a monastic group of Essenes who left after an earthquake and were replaced by a lay group of Essene date farmers, then again by Essene ascetics, before being finally taken over by Jewish rebels fighting the Roman legions and abandoned when Judea fell.

Or, maybe these are all the same? Hasmonean to Zealot - those zealous for the Law and therefore against foreigners who 'pollute the Temple': the Kittim, whether Greek, Seleucid, Roman, or Herodian.

« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2007, 02:45:54 PM »

God's Dogs
The methods employed by his order were not so gentle. They included torture and execution, usually by burning. Although instructions for interrogation limiting the use of torture were issued, the tendency was to exceed them. Many Dominicans never participated in the Inquisition. Others were mild in their measures. Some resigned rather than continue the brutal work. Nonetheless the good name of the Dominicans was forever stained by their participation in this cruel activity. Before long the order became popularly known as Domini canes, Latin for "God's dogs."

Later in the thirteenth century (Papal inquisition), the pope assigned the Dominican Order for the duty of inquisitors. Since then Inquisitors were few (always less than 10), acting by the name of the Pope with full authority. They judged heresy alone, using local authorities to put a tribunal and persecute heretics. Since the end of the fifteenth century(Spanish Inquisition) they were ruled by a Grand Inquisitor. Inquisitors persisted through time until the nineteenth century.

Roman Inquisition
Pope Paul III established, in 1542, a permanent congregation staffed with cardinals and other officials, whose task was to maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines. This body, the Congregation of the Holy Office, now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, part of the Roman Curia, became the supervisory body of local Inquisitions. The Pope appoints one of the cardinals to preside over the meetings. There are usually ten other cardinals on the Congregation, as well as a prelate and two assistants all chosen from the Dominican Order.
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2007, 05:14:10 PM »

Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Stephen Pfann, of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem

University of the Holy Land. Hmm. That raises my eyebrows.

I have found many references to this institution, but no website.

Nice pic. She looks suitably inspired.

Another View of the Nativity
CBN News
December 22, 2006

CBNNews.com - As the world prepares to celebrate Christmas, we want to show you a unique perspective on the Nativity.

Claire Fawn, co-founder of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, and an expert in early Christianity, portrays Mary as an older woman reflecting on her life.

Fawn becomes the storyteller, while film clips of a younger Mary dramatize the story of the Nativity.

The video shows Mary growing up and discovering God's plan for her, the amazing events of the annunciation, the birth of Jesus, and His destiny to become the Lamb of God.

She is not, of course, as described: an expert in early Christianity, though she is probably expert in what is taught by orthodox Christians as early Christianity. Who is? They are a rare breed.

Looks to me as though these people are part of the gang that lends an aura of academic verisimilitude to the 'early Christian' story, so the rest of us can ignore the evidence and continue to have faith. We have them in Britain, too, where otherwise reputable hacks, and trendy-looking priests (with the Indiana Jones hat) stare us in the eye, on television, to assure us that the NT is reliable, proven history, and the NT Jesus an historical character.

Almost 2,000 years of crud served up by pretentious, self-serving creeps and liars is enough.

Platinum Member

Karma: 143

Posts: 1768

View Profile
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2007, 12:19:41 PM »

For the most part Sol, I must agree with you, the damage they have done and continue to do is incaculable. The only part I am unfamiliar with is the Chinese spare parts aspect. A 108 acre country that wields more power than most all others combined is ...____ fill in the blank with as many adjectives as you desire. Henry VIII threw them on of England, but I don't recall off-hand who let them back in.


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2007, 03:06:37 PM »

I was being somewhat gross, Bart, and have removed that sentence. They get my blood up sometimes. The personal attacks made on Eisenman were so gross that sometimes I am tempted to respond in kind.

In the UK, the church is an integral part of state, which is not the case in the USA. Clergy have shaped our laws for centuries. The Vatican still plays its secret games for power. Blair slips out of No. 10 at night to visit Westminster Cathedral and is likely to change his religion formally once he has left office this year; I see his foreign policy - in particular his attitude to the death of others - as shaped by his secretive religious views.

Monarchy is validated by the church, with a quid pro quo that shaped European history for many centuries, usually for the worse.

« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2007, 11:13:12 AM »

Indications that the "Brother of Jesus" Inscription is a Forgery
There can be no doubt that the 21 inch long carved limestone container is an authentic first century C.E. ossuary (bone box) which originated in the Jerusalem area. Nor can there be any doubt concerning the authenticity of the eleven letter Aramaic inscription on one of its broad sides reading Yakov bar Yosef? in English "Yakov son of Yosef."
- Jeffrey R. Chadwick, Ph.D.

My interpretation is this is the ossuary of James, the Just in which his bones were placed 1 year after his execution in 62 CE. Having studied perhaps 80% of all 1st century ossuarial inscriptions, it is the only one where a sibling is used as an identifier along with the father. This would only be done because the brother had some sort of prominence.
- Jack Kilmon, historian

Searching for historicity within the New Testament is like searching for the proverbial needle. One character who does appear to be genuine is James 'the Just' and the ossuary with the now-infamous forged additional name is, almost certainly, his burial box.

I have started this thread so that we may discuss James, his beliefs, his life and the impact he had then and since.

« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2007, 11:26:07 AM »

Robert Eiseman's JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS: A Higher-Critical Evaluation
Robert M. Price
Drew University

Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Viking Penguin, 1997, xxxvi + 1074 pp., $39.95. ISBN 0-670-86932-5.


1. To anticipate the thrust of the book as a whole, let it be said that Eisenman first draws a portrait of the early community of James as a nationalistic, messianic, priestly, and xenophobic sect of ultra-legal pietism, something most of us would deem fanaticism.

2. As Hans-Joachim Schoeps had already surmised, the stoning of Stephen has in precisely the same way supplanted the stoning of James (actually a conflation of James' ultimate stoning at the command of Ananus and an earlier assault by Saul on the temple steps preserved as a separate incident in the Recognitions). The name Stephen has been borrowed from a Roman official beaten by Jewish insurgents whom Josephus depicts ambushing him outside the city walls. Why this name? Because of a pun: Stephen means "crown" and was suggested both by the "crown" of long hair worn by the Nazirite (which James was, according to early church writers) and by the crown of martyrdom. To Stephen has been transferred James' declaration of the Son of Man at the right hand of God in heaven, as well as James' "Christlike" prayer for his persecutors. (Eisenman might have noted, too, that the martyr's original identity as James the Just is signaled by Acts 7:52, "the Just, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become"!)

We read that a young man named Saul was playing coat checker for the executioners of Stephen and, his taste for blood whetted, immediately began to foment persecution in Jerusalem and Damascus. This has been drawn, again, from the lore of James as well as Josephus. The clothing motif was suggested by the final blow to James' head with a fuller's club, while just after his own account of James' death, Josephus tells of the rioting started by a Herodian named Saulus in Jerusalem!

Eisenman sees various Jamesian themes floating around to link up in entirely different forms elsewhere in Christian scripture. For instance, the Transfiguration has Jesus glimpsed in heavenly glory as Stephen saw him and James proclaimed him. And of course "James" is there on the scene. The "fuller" element is repeated in the form of Jesus' shining clothes, whiter than any fuller on earth could have bleached them. Again, in the Recognitions, Saul is pursuing James and the Jerusalem saints out to Jericho (the vicinity of the Qumran "Damascus"), and somehow they are protected by the spectacle of two martyrs' tombs which miraculously whiten every year. There is the whitening element linked with Saul's persecution. Again, at the empty tomb (recalling those martyrs' tombs), we meet a "young man" (the epithet applied to Saul in Acts' stoning of Stephen) who is dressed in white (the fuller motif) and sitting at the right, this time, of Jesus' resting place (just as Stephen saw Jesus at the right hand of God).

3. James had been executed for blasphemy on account of his functioning (as early church writers tell us) as an opposition High Priest entering the Inner Sanctum on the Day of Atonement. As an Essene (as shown by his ascetic practices, his linen dress, etc.) he would have celebrated Yom Kippur on a different day, which is how he could not collide with Ananus doing the same thing, and why he would have been executed for ritual irregularity as the Mishnah required for such an infraction.

As Eisenman describes the role of James, it has very little to do with Jesus (about as little as the Epistle of James does, come to think of it!). Even the famous story of James being invited by the High Priest to address the people at Passover, to dissuade them from their growing faith in Jesus, issuing in his surprise confession, "Why do you ask me concerning the Son of Man...?" might be read, Eisenman seems to imply, as a Christianization of an original in which James was asked to quell the messianic excitement of the Passover crowds (a yearly source of eschatological headaches for the Temple and Roman establishments), with no reference to Jesus as the expected messiah. And James' answer would have been an incitement of messianic expectation, again with no reference to Jesus as the Son of Man. Similarly, the vow of James neither to eat nor to drink till the Son of Man should have risen from them that sleep might be a Christian redaction of James' vow to observe Nazirite asceticism till the coming of the messiah, not necessarily the resurrection of Jesus. So Eisenman's James would pretty much make sense as a major religious figure in his own right, not standing in the shadow of Jesus. This is the impression we gain from Hegesippus and others anyway: how could the Temple authorities ever have asked James to quell the popular enthusiasm over Jesus if they knew he himself was a Christian leader? And if he was a prominent Christian leader how could they not have known it? They knew him as a pious Jew, as did Josephus.

This picture of James as important in his own right comports with two other distinctive hypotheses of Eisenman. The first is his identification of James the Just as the Qumran Teacher of Righteousness, a case he argues at length in his earlier books now happily reprinted in the collection The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians. He alludes to the possibility of this identification several times in James the Brother of Jesus, but the argument here is in no way dependent upon it, and he has reserved a systematic treatment for the forthcoming second volume. Of course, even on Eisenman's reading of the Dead Sea texts, little is said about Jesus. His reading of the sources on James makes sense of this. Jesus would not have occupied a Christological centrality in the original context of an "Essenism" which eventually fragmented along the lines of factional loyalties to Jesus (Ebionite Christianity), John the Baptist (the Mandaean sect), and James the Just (the Qumran sect). For a similar scenario on Gentile soil see 1 Cor 1:12.

4. First, since Judas Thomas/Thaddaeus is also called "Lebbaeus," an apparent variant of James' title "Oblias" (the Bulwark = the Pillar), we must suppose that the Heirs of Jesus and the Pillars were synonymous, which in turn makes the Pillar John a brother of Jesus. (Eisenman supposes there must have been a Pillar named John; it is his connection with the cipher "James son of Zebedee" that presents the difficulty.) Thus there is no problem accepting the Pillar John as the real brother of James the Just and of Judas Thomas and Simeon bar Cleophas. All were counted as Pillars or Bulwarks whose presence in Jerusalem kept the city safe. And remember the curious business with James and John being christened "Boanerges," taken to mean "sons of thunder," but (with John Allegro) more likely representing the Sumerian Geshpuanur (the prefix becoming a suffix as is common in Near Eastern names), meaning "upholder of the vault of heaven," a title of one of the Dioscuri or heavenly twins (Acts 28:11). This is to make James and John at once both brothers and cosmic pillars. And since the two cosmic pillars upholding the roof of Solomon's Temple (symbolic of the firmament of the heavens, as in all ancient temples) were called Boaz and Jachin, one may wonder whether Boanerges has something to do with Boaz, James/Jacob with Jachin. Like James, John is said (by Polycrates) to have worn the priestly ephod, and this would fit the Zealot-like rebel priesthood ideology of James and Judas Thomas (Theudas).
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2007, 11:55:14 AM »

James the Just
Teacher of Righteousness

The Teacher of Righteousness is a figure found in some of the Dead sea scrolls at Qumran, most prominently in the Damascus Document (CD). This document speaks briefly of the origins of the sect, 390 years after the exile and after 20 years of 'groping' blindly for the way "God... raised for them a Teacher of Righteousness to guide them in the way of His heart" (CD 1:9-11). The Teacher claimed to have the proper of understanding of the Torah, being the one through whom God would reveal to the community ?the hidden things in which Israel had gone astray? (CD 3:12-15). He also claimed to be an inspired interpreter of the prophets, as the one ?to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of his servants the prophets? (1QpHab 7:5).

Damascus Document
The Damascus Document is the name given to one of the works found in multiple fragments and copies in the caves at Qumran, and as such is counted amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. The current majority view is that the scrolls are related to an Essene community based there around the first century BC.

The fragments from Qumran have been assigned the document references 4Q265-73, 5Q12, and 6Q15. Even before the Qumran discovery of the mid-20th century, this particular work had been known to scholars, through two manuscripts found during the late 19th century amongst the Cairo Genizah collection, in a room adjoining the Ben Ezra synagogue in Fustat. These fragments are housed at the Cambridge University Library with the classmarks T-S 10K6 and T-S 16.311 (other references are CDa and CDb, where "CD" stands for "Cairo Damascus"), and date from the tenth and twelfth centuries, respectively. In contrast to the fragments found at Qumran, the CD documents are largely complete, and therefore are vital for reconstructing the text.

The title of the document comes from numerous references within it to Damascus. The way this Damascus is treated in the document makes it possible that it was not a literal reference to Damascus in Syria, but to be understood either geographically for Babylon or Qumran itself. If symbolic, it is probably taking up the Biblical language found in Amos 5:27, "therefore I shall take you into exile beyond Damascus"; Damascus was part of Israel under King David, and the Damascus Document expresses an eschatalogical hope of the restoration of a Davidic monarchy.
Platinum Member

Karma: 143

Posts: 1768

View Profile
« Reply #25 on: February 22, 2007, 03:30:34 AM »

It appears that you are not alone in your perspective.


Led Astray By a Dead Sea Latrine

Katharina Galor and J?rgen Zangenberg | Fri. Feb 16, 2007

Recently, Israeli paleopathologist Joseph Zias and American biblical scholar James Tabor claimed that primitive latrines they discovered close to the ancient city of Qumran confirm that Essenes had lived in the area. In doing so, they stepped knee-deep into the controversy about the authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered near Khirbet Qumran and are perhaps the most important biblical manuscripts ever found.

Zias and Tabor?s claim that Qumran was an Essene settlement was first put forth in the late 1940s, shortly after the scrolls were discovered and the Qumran architectural complex was excavated. At the time, scholars proposed that the Essene people mentioned by such ancient authors as Josephus, Philo and Pliny deserved to be recognized as the sect described in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

But in the years since, particularly after the discovery of additional manuscripts in the 1950s and ?60s, most scholars have come to agree that the scrolls reflect the religious and social ideas of various groups within ancient Judaism. A number of archeologists have raised serious doubts about the theory that the sect that wrote, copied and collected the scrolls built and used the archaeological complex at Qumran as its communal base.

According to Tabor and Zias, however, the primitive latrines they discovered connect Qumran to the Dead Sea Scrolls and give direct evidence of Essene culture at the site. While Tabor and Zias certainly are to be congratulated for their finds, their interpretation of the material raises severe doubts about their claims.

To begin with, Tabor and Zias fail to show why the latrines should be exclusively linked to the Essenes. They point to passages in two Dead Sea Scrolls that speak about the latrines being located in a place to the ?northwest of the city? and ?not visible from the city.? Why, though, should we think that the city mentioned in these texts represents Essene Qumran?

Tabor and Zias?s reasoning works only if a firm connection among Essenes, Qumran texts and architectural complex is already accepted before the archaeological material is analyzed. Not only does this assumption not prove anything, but it itself is in need of proof, as well.

The second problem with their claim is topography. The fact that they found installations such as latrines to the northwest of Qumran is not all that surprising, because the flat surface north and west of the site represents the only spot where any such structure could have been built. How, then, can the location be an argument in favor of the installation?s Essene origin?

In addition, according to some there was also a latrine located inside the settlement. Zias himself has written about its contents. He should be more than capable, therefore, of explaining how an indoor latrine can be reconciled with the Dead Sea Scroll texts that he quotes to identify the new discovery outside town as Essene, as well as with assumptions about the Qumranites? extreme obsession with ritual purity.

Furthermore, Tabor and Zias fail to show that the latrine is indeed ancient. Instead of simply presenting a scientifically based date of the feces remains ? which would be easy, given the fact that we are dealing here with organic material ? we are told only that it cannot be Bedouin because Bedouin usually do not bury their waste. Strange logic, indeed.

Even if the new toilet was not Bedouin, it does not follow that it was Essene. Without physical data, the ancient date of the open-air latrine is up in the air. Tabor and Zias?s attempt to connect their findings from the latrine with material from the cemetery at Qumran is equally unconvincing. While Zias has indeed done previous work on the Qumran cemetery, he is not sufficiently familiar with the bone material itself to conclude, as he did recently, that ?the graveyard at Qumran is the unhealthiest group that I have ever studied in over 30 years.?

A large part of the human bone material excavated at Qumran in the 1950s by French priest Roland de Vaux has recently been re-examined and republished by two teams, one led by German anthropologist Olav R?hrer-Ertl and the other by American paleoanthropologist Susan Sheridan. Both scholars explicitly warn against generalizing anthropological data from the Qumran cemetery, because fewer than 50 individuals have been properly examined from well over 1,100 burials.

Zias should know that the statistical value of the material is insignificant and does not allow for drawing conclusions about the mortality rate and general health of the Qumran population. Contrary to Zias?s claim, R?hrer-Ertl and Sheridan have not noted any unusual and surprising characteristics when examining the Qumran bones. The data show a surprisingly wide range of age, including several individuals aged 50 and older, and include both men and women.

On what basis, then, does Zias ignore these data? Zias and Tabor?s hypotheses about the Qumranites? rigorous latrine and purification practices and an exceptionally high mortality rate are completely unfounded.

Zias and Tabor have demonstrated clearly how much the individuals responsible for the feces in the outdoor latrine suffered from all sorts of parasites. But they fail to show how this phenomenon can be exclusively connected to the Essenes. Moreover, the assumption that the users of the new toilet were of particularly poor health can be made only when the material is carefully compared with data from other sites.

If the ancient date of the organic material from the pit can indeed be established, it should be correlated not to texts of dubious relevance, but to material from other latrines in the region and beyond. Indeed, it is for such comparisons that Zias and Tabor?s fascinating discovery holds potential.

As happens often when it comes to Qumran archaeology, this newly discovered material has been misused as ?proof? of the alleged Essene character of the site before it has been properly analyzed and compared. As much as Zias and Tabor should be lauded for their find, the pests from the pit do not prove that Essenes lived at Qumran.

Katharina Galor is a visiting assistant professor at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and at the Judaic studies program at Brown University. J?rgen Zangenberg is a professor of New Testament and early Christian literature at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2007, 03:48:57 PM »

Bart: I think we may expect this story to run and run.

A deceptively-simple account of an excavation of nothing more than a mundanity - latrines - and yet...

There are so many aspects to this site.

The baths, for example of another mundane feature. Ritual bathing was an essential part of Essene life, so it became an issue of major contention.

The burials, the excavation of which are a common task of an archaeologist. Here, there have become a battle ground.

It used to be that the main issue of contention was the dating of coins. Roland de Vaux, the priest mentioned in the above post, made a fundamental error in interpretation (the terminus post quem logic).

Personally, I am not very concerned with Qumran vis-?-vis the Dead Sea Scrolls and events surrounding the Jewish Revolts. The two need not be connected directly. The coins provide a good indication of who was around and when, and other than that, I am content to study the scrolls and their interpretations without much reference to this archaeological site.

That said, I agree with Eisenman (et al) that the Essenes probably referred to Qumran as Damascus.

Platinum Member

Karma: 143

Posts: 1768

View Profile
« Reply #27 on: April 17, 2007, 04:33:44 AM »

Take Claims About Dead Sea Scrolls With a Grain of Salt

Opinion - a summary of the current prevailing views

Apr 13, 2007

Once again, controversy is brewing over the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

   After widely publicized showings in Seattle and in other cities, the largest Scrolls exhibit ever is scheduled to open soon at the San Diego Natural History Museum. A sophisticated media campaign has accompanied all the current exhibits, aimed at convincing the public of the truth of an old, and now increasingly disputed, theory of the Scrolls? origins ? namely, that they were written by Essenes living at the ancient site near the Dead Sea known as Khirbet Qumran.

   The media campaign is but the latest instance of a half-century of scholarly disregard for ancient Judaic culture. Like the recently propagated claim that ossuary coffins found in a Jerusalem crypt contain the remains of the family of Jesus of Nazareth and of Jesus himself, the traditional theory of the Scrolls? origins is based not on scientific research per se, but rather on conjecture and a tendentious presentation of evidence ? techniques feeding on a largely faith-based fascination with Christian origins.

   Those who saw and studied the first of the Scrolls, circa 1948-1952, too quickly surmised that they had been written not by the Palestinian Jews at large but rather by the small, pietist Essenic sect, which represented only a minuscule portion of that population. The Qumran site, close to the 11 Scroll caves that stretched northward from that area, was soon thereafter arbitrarily identified as the home of this group.

   A Christological element was then brought into the picture, and the resulting theory has found massive public acceptance, involving as it did claims that the desert home of the Essenes had been located and that its inhabitants in particular had helped fashion early Christian ideas. Father Roland de Vaux, the first editor in chief of the Scrolls publication project, and himself a Dominican monk, championed the theory and called Qumran an ?Essene monastery.?

   The later emergence of new text evidence ? such as the famous Copper Scroll, which contains an inventory of buried artifacts and treasures of the Jerusalem Temple, and is still called a ?mystery? by traditional Scrolls scholars ? basically did nothing to change the interpretation of these manuscripts. The Qumran-Essene hunch quickly became the dominant theory, coloring virtually all researchers? efforts to understand the Scrolls.

   During the past two decades, however, scholars have increasingly come to see that the totality of evidence now favors an entirely different view: that the Scrolls were the writings of various Palestinian groups and individuals, and that a pressing historical cause ? the impending Roman siege on Jerusalem of 70 C.E. ? was responsible for their sequestration in desert caves.

   The latest support for these conclusions comes from archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authority, who after 10 seasons of systematic excavations at Qumran ? excavations that revealed an entirely secular settlement devoted to the manufacture of pottery ? have concluded in detailed studies published in the United States and Israel that Qumran was not the home of a sect and that the Scrolls could have come only from Jerusalem and its vicinity.

   The dispassionate investigation of the texts, as of the nearby archaeological site, has thus opened the way to a new understanding of Jewish thought and experience at a crucial moment in the history of this people. But traditional Scroll scholars, deeply committed in their writings to a theory created prematurely and in haste, have continued to assert their belief in that old idea.

   Concomitantly, a phenomenon of great concern has developed, involving initiatives aimed at creating an apologetic defense of the old theory so as to secure its acceptance by the general public.

   One example is the recent disingenuous claim ? rebutted on this page in February by Katharina Galor and J?rgen Zangenberg ? that the discovery of fecal remains near Qumran proves that Essenes really lived there.

   Another is a widely publicized DNA project announced in 1995, the results of which have been suppressed.

   And yet another is a dramatic 1997 Israel Museum press release stating that a newly unearthed ostracon mentioning Jericho ?constitutes the first archaeological proof? that a connection exists between the Qumran site and the Scrolls found in nearby caves? ? a claim based on the erroneous reading of a single word whose magnification subsequently proved that the ostracon had nothing to do with Essenes or Qumran.

   To this list can be added the current Scroll exhibitions. The recommended reading lists accompanying these exhibits exclude all publications by scholars who are of the view that the Scrolls are of Jerusalem origin. Indeed, no archaeologist associated with this interpretation has been invited to lecture at these venues. The exhibits themselves, once compared with the actual findings as known today, demonstrably mislead the public.

   What these efforts and others similar to them share is a fundamental, and inappropriate, disregard for ancient Judaic culture. The complex history of the Palestinian Jews on the eve of the First Revolt is being pushed aside in favor of a bizarre, Christologically colored thesis. The fervently expressed ?tomb of Jesus? belief, portrayed in a self-styled documentary featuring costumed actors, is but a spillover of the same phenomenon.

   Current seductive exhibitions and other efforts to the contrary, the Scrolls have, since their forced publication, been revealing many new aspects of the Jewish experience before Jerusalem burned and the Temple priesthood forever lost its power. Let us hope that the sectarian fallacy of the past half-century will ultimately be set aside, and that scholars and the public will come to focus on a profound and decisive moment in the Jewish past.

   Norman Golb teaches Jewish history and civilization at the University of Chicago?s Oriental Institute. He is the author of ?Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search for the Secret of Qumran? (Scribner, 1996).


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2007, 01:57:55 PM »

I admire the work of Norman Golb, who is an active participant in the debates surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls. The above summary is therefore not a detached, objective study, but an exposition of his position.

In that regard, I am probably in a better position to offer a summary.

My interest in the subject began some forty years ago. I wanted to know if the scrolls could offer a non-biblical perspective on the NT Jesus. The question that occupied me - and most probably, very many others - was to discover some historical basis for this religious figure. That question is now answered to my satisfaction (a clear and resounding 'no' to his historicity).

This question was impossible to answer for decades, because study of the scrolls was controlled exclusively by the Roman Catholic order responsible for the Inquisition. As events proved, the interest of this group was not to offer a purely academic study, but to protect its dogma.

This religious order used its exclusive control of access to the scrolls to manipulate academic study and, through this, academic progress and careers. It defended its position by lies, obfuscation and bitter personal attacks on any who challenged its authority.

The Roland de Vaux mentioned is P?re Roland de Vaux, a French Dominican priest who headed the ?cole Biblique in Jerusalem. He was editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls from 1953-71.

The stranglehold of the Catholic church was broken very largely by the strenuous efforts of one man, Robert Eisenman. In my view, his studies offer a near-definitive understanding of how the scrolls relate to the history of the Jews in the period leading up the First Jewish Revolt.

This is the period in which the NT Jesus figure is supposed to have existed. This is, as I mentioned, above, where my interest was focused. It has little to do with Qumran.

The authorship question is complex. Did all the scrolls originate from one place? If that place was a library, in Jerusalem, say, did they serve a single purpose? If some or all belonged to the Essenes, who were they?

First then, let us look at what we are discussing: the scrolls.

The Qumran Library
The scrolls and scroll fragments recovered in the Qumran environs represent a voluminous body of Jewish documents, a veritable "library", dating from the third century B.C.E. to 68 C.E. Unquestionably, the "library," which is the greatest manuscript find of the twentieth century, demonstrates the rich literary activity of Second Temple Period Jewry and sheds insight into centuries pivotal to both Judaism and Christianity. The library contains some books or works in a large number of copies, yet others are represented only fragmentarily by mere scraps of parchment. There are tens of thousands of scroll fragments. The number of different compositions represented is almost one thousand, and they are written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

There is less agreement on the specifics of what the Qumran library contains. According to many scholars, the chief categories represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls are:

Those works contained in the Hebrew Bible. All of the books of the Bible are represented in the Dead Sea Scroll collection except Esther.

Apocryphal or pseudepigraphical
Those works which are omitted from various canons of the Bible and included in others.

Those scrolls related to a pietistic commune and include ordinances, biblical commentaries, apocalyptic visions, and liturgical works.

While the group producing the sectarian scrolls is believed by many to be the Essenes, there are other scholars who state that there is too little evidence to support the view that one sect produced all of the sectarian material. Also, there are scholars who believe there is a fourth category of scroll materials which is neither biblical, apocryphal, nor "sectarian." In their view, such scrolls, which may include "Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice", should be designated simply as contemporary Jewish writing.

It is the sectarian content, authored by one or more communities, that relates to the question of Qumran. Simply: did a community - possibly Essene - author the community portion of the scrolls and live at Qumran?

Though I think it most likely that the answer to both parts of the question is 'yes', my understanding of the content does not depend on this in any manner.

There can be no doubt that some of the sectarian content is community-based.

The Community Rule
Serekh ha-Yahad

4Q258 (Sd)
Copied late first century B.C.E. - early first century C.E.

Originally known as The Manual of Discipline, the Community Rule contains a set of regulations ordering the life of the members of the "yahad," the group within the Judean Desert sect who chose to live communally and whose members accepted strict rules of conduct. This fragment cites the admonitions and punishments to be imposed on violators of the rules, the method of joining the group, the relations between the members, their way of life, and their beliefs. The sect divided humanity between the righteous and the wicked and asserted that human nature and everything that happens in the world are irrevocably predestined. The scroll ends with songs of praise to God.

A complete copy of the scroll, eleven columns in length, was found in Cave 1. Ten fragmentary copies were recovered in Cave 4, and a small section was found in Cave 5. The large number of manuscript copies attests to the importance of this text for the sect. This particular fragment is the longest of the versions of this text found in Cave 4.

Qumran, E. "A Preliminary Publication of 4QSd Columns VII-VIII" (in Hebrew). Tarbiz 60 (1991):435-37.

Damascus Document
Brit Damesek

Copied late first century B.C.E.

The Damascus Document is a collection of rules and instructions reflecting the practices of a sectarian community. It includes two elements. The first is an admonition that implores the congregation to remain faithful to the covenant of those who retreated from Judea to the "Land of Damascus." The second lists statutes dealing with vows and oaths, the tribunal, witnesses and judges, purification of water, Sabbath laws, and ritual cleanliness. The right-hand margin is incomplete. The left-hand margin was sewn to another piece of parchment, as evidenced by the remaining stitches.

In 1896, noted Talmud scholar and educator Solomon Schechter discovered sectarian compositions which later were found to be medieval versions of the Damascus Document. Schechter's find in a synagogue storeroom near Cairo, almost fifty years before the Qumran discoveries, may be regarded as the true starting point of modern scroll research.

1. Baumgarten, J. "The Laws of the Damascus Document in Current Research." In The Damascus Document Reconsidered. Edited by M. Broshi. Jerusalem, 1992. Written by Baltimore Hebrew University scholar Joseph Baumgarten, this 1992 imprint includes an analysis of the Damascus Document and its relation to Jewish Law, or halakhah.

2. Rabin, C. The Zadokite Documents. Oxford, 1958.

3. Schechter, S. Fragments of a Zadokite Work: Documents of Jewish Sectaries, vol. 1. Cambridge, England, 1910.

That there was a community and that the scrolls contain some of their works there should be no doubt.

I will not digress here and now into an examination of the content. I will just mention that the attempts to make the scrolls appear to be irrelevant to the study of early Christianity have failed.

4QTestimonia (or Messianic Anthology, 4Q175 [4QTest])

Testimonia was found in Cave Four near the site of Khirbet Qumran near the shores of the Dead Sea in the early 1950's. It is a short document, complete except for a piece missing in the lower right corner. The name "Testimonia" comes from an early type of Christian writing, which it resembles in literary style. The Christian Testimonia was a collection of verses from the Bible about the messiah, strung together to prove some kind of point. Verses used like this are usually called "proof-texts." The Testimonia from Qumran is not a Christian document, but does resemble the early Christian Testimonia because of its use of a number of verses dealing with a theme.

The Qumran text includes five biblical quotations connected by interpretation. The first two quotations refer to the raising up of a prophet like Moses. The third quotation refers to a royal Messiah, the fourth to a priestly Messiah. The quotation from Joshua is connected to the coming of a time of great disaster, brought on by those dedicated to evil. The manuscript is usually dated to the middle of the first century B.C.E.

Photograph by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research, in collaboration with the Princeton Theological Seminary. Courtesy Department of Antiquities, Jordan.

Commentary by Marilyn J. Lundberg.

The War Rule
Serekh ha-Milhamah

4Q285 (SM)
Copied early first century C.E.
Height 4 cm (1 1/2 in.), length 5 cm (2 in.)
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority (12)
This six-line fragment, commonly referred to as the "Pierced Messiah" text, is written in a Herodian script of the first half of the first century C.E. and refers to a Messiah from the Branch of David, to a judgment, and to a killing.
Hebrew is comprised primarily of consonants; vowels must be supplied by the reader. The appropriate vowels depend on the context. Thus, the text (line 4) may be translated as "and the Prince of the Congregation, the Branch of David, will kill him," or alternately read as "and they killed the Prince." Because of the second reading, the text was dubbed the "Pierced Messiah." The transcription and translation presented here support the "killing Messiah" interpretation, alluding to a triumphant Messiah (Isaiah 11:4).

In September 1992, "Time Magazine" published an article on the War Rule fragment displayed here (object no. 12) exploring the differing interpretations. A "piercing messiah" reading would support the traditional Jewish view of a triumphant messiah. If, on the other hand, the fragment were interpreted as speaking of a "pierced messiah," it would anticipate the New Testament view of the preordained death of the messiah. The scholarly basis for these differing interpretations--but not their theological ramifications--are reviewed in "A Pierced or Piercing Messiah?"

1. Vermes, G. "The Oxford Forum for Qumran Research: Seminar on the Rule of the War from Cave 4 (4Q285)," Journal of Jewish Studies 43 (Spring 1992):85-90.

2. Richard N. Ostling Is Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls? Time (September 21, 1992) Unbound serial. Hebraic Section, African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress.

3. James D. Tabor A Pierced or Piercing Messiah? -- The Verdict is Still Out Biblical Archaeology Review 18 (November - December 1992) Unbound serial. Hebraic Section, African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress.

Date and contents
According to carbon dating, textual analysis, and handwriting analysis the documents were written at various times between the middle of the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE. At least one document has a carbon date range of 21 BCE ?61 CE.

The fragments span at least 801 texts that represent many diverse viewpoints, ranging from beliefs resembling those of the Essenes to those of other sects. About 30% are fragments from the Hebrew Bible, from all the books except the Book of Esther and the Book of Nehemiah (Abegg et al 2002). About 25% are traditional Israelite religious texts that are not in the canonical Hebrew Bible, such as the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, and the Testament of Levi. Another 30% contain Biblical commentaries or other texts such as the Community Rule (1QS/4QSa-j, also known as "Discipline Scroll" or "Manual of Discipline"), The Rule of the Congregation, The Rule of the Blessing and the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (1QM, also known as the "War Scroll") related to the beliefs, regulations, and membership requirements of a Jewish sect, which some researchers continue to believe lived in the Qumran area. The rest of the fragments (about 15%) remain unidentified.

It is difficult for the layman to gain an independent and authoritative view of the scrolls. Many, if not most of the scholars hold religious views and most come to the subject with either a degree of prejudice, or at least a preset point of view which tends to act like a pair of blinkers. On the other hand, I think that it is necessary for a good scholar of the subject to have a thorough grounding in both Judaism and Jewish history of the period.

Diving Doc
Platinum Member

Karma: 104

Posts: 1482

Treasure is In books

View Profile WWW
« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2007, 02:40:21 PM »

This man Dr. Robert H. Eisenman Is truly remarkable. Thanks for all your efforts.

Dr. Robert H. Eisenman is a Professor of Middle East Religions and Archaeology and Director of the Institute for the Study of Judeo-Christian Origins at California State University, Long Beach; and Visiting Senior Member of Linacre College, Oxford University. The consultant to the Huntington Library in its decision to free the Dead Sea scrolls, he was the leading figure in the worldwide campaign to gain access to the scrolls. A National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, he was a Senior Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies.

He is most famous for having completed a translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls in only 6 months, and for his radical understanding of the early Christian community as one imitating the Nasoreans, who still exist today as the priests of the Mandaeans. His theory that John the Baptist did not recognise or authorise the mission of Jesus backs up the history of the Mandaeans - though he did not refer to them specifically in his work - and explains many historical anomalies.

[edit] Books

    * The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered (with Michael Wise), 1992, ISBN 1852303689
    * James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Viking, 1997, ISBN 1842930265
    * The New Testament Code: The Cup of the Lord, the Damascus Covenant, and the Blood of Christ, 2006, Duncan Baird Publishers / Watkins, ISBN 1842931865.

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4  All   Go Up

Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.4 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC
History Hunters Worldwide Exodus | TinyPortal v0.9.8 © Bloc