Qumran Revisited–new book



I have a new book out: David Stacey and Gregory Doudna, with a contribution from Gideon Avni, Qumran Revisited: A Reassessment of the Archaeology of the Site and its Texts (BAR International Series 2520; Oxford: Archaeopress, 2013).

David Stacey is an archaeologist in England who worked ten years on the Netzer excavations at Jericho, the nearest major site to Qumran, where most of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Stacey reassesses the interpretation of the archaeology of Qumran. Most scholars of the Qumran texts have assumed Qumran was the site of a monastic-like group of Essenes. Stacey argues that Qumran was an extension of Hasmonean Jericho, and that Qumran was a site for smelly and dirty industries located away from the people at Jericho.

My contribution to this book–dealing with the texts found at the site–is entitled “The Sect of the Qumran Texts and its Leading Role in the Temple in Jerusalem During Much of the First Century BCE: ?Toward a New Framework for Understanding”

Updated May 2, 2015. Note: the best place to find my Dead Sea Scrolls and other scholarly publications is at www.academia.edu

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Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls; new biography of Milik

Two interesting books:

(1) T. Lim and J. Collins (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Many good articles, especially Martin Goodman (“the notion that the Dead Sea sectarians cut themselves off from the Temple would seem to us bizarre if we only had the pagan evidence and archaeology as the background to our understanding of the scrolls” [p. 88]); Sacha Stern (“The absence of calendar polemics in Qumran sources raises our suspicion that the calendar was not a major issue that would have defined the Qumran community as essentially different, sectarian, or separatist” [p. 247]); Michael Wise (“the Teacher and his movement appear to belong to the first century BCE” [p. 119]); Joan Taylor (“Josephus does not imply that the Essenes . . . avoided the Temple, Jerusalem, or the public life of Judaism” [p. 182]), and more. Charlotte Hempel reviews the volume here.

(2) Zdislaw Kapera and Robert Feather, Doyen of the Dead Sea Scrolls. An in depth biography of Jozef Tadeusz Milik (1922-2006). Krakow: Enigma Press, 2011. Jozef Milik, widely regarded as the most brilliant text person of the first generation of editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, reclusive, mercurial . . . Robert Feather not only was able to befriend and have a number of visits with the legendary Milik in Paris in the last years of Milik’s life but in this volume gives details of some of those conversations. Fascinating material. (The book is difficult to obtain but is available for $90 from this seller in Poland: Archaeobooks.)

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The “yachad ostracon” found at Qumran

Greg Doudna, “Ostraca KhQ1 and KhQ2 from the cemetery of Qumran: a new edition”, in E. Ben-Zvi, ed., Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures II. Comprising the contents of Journal of Hebrew Scriptures vol. 5 (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2007), pp. 59-116.

(Contents of this volume can be viewed on google books.)

Two ostraca–potsherds with writing–known as KhQ1 and KhQ2 were found outside the east wall at Qumran in 1996. The editors, Frank Cross and Esther Eshel, identified KhQ1 as a deed of gift of property from a new member to a religious community at Qumran in a manner enjoined by the Community Rule (1QS)–one of the most important Qumran texts. It was claimed that KhQ1 provided the first direct evidence that the Community Rule was practiced at Qumran. In the most detailed analysis of these texts undertaken in the scholarly literature, this article presents new readings of KhQ1 and KhQ2 and takes up the question of whether KhQ1 can confirm or exclude the community-gift interpretation on the basis of an accurate reading of the text.


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The Legacy of an Error in Archaeological Interpretation: the Dating of the Qumran Cave Scroll Deposits

In this article, delivered as a paper in 2002 at a Qumran archaeology conference and published in 2006, I argued that the scholarly belief in the dating of the scroll deposits in the caves around Qumran at the time of the First Revolt (66-70 CE) is without evidence and probably wrong, and that more likely the scroll deposits in the caves were completed by about the end of the first century BCE.

Gregory L. Doudna, “The Legacy of an Error in Archaeological Interpretation: the Dating of the Qumran Cave Scroll Deposits, in K. Galor, J.-B. Humbert & J. Zangenberg (eds), Qumran: The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates: Proceedings of a Conference held at Brown University, November 17-19, 2002 (Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 147-57.

It is a curious paradox that scholarly constructions often retain momentum after the original reasons which created them are acknowledged to be mistaken. There was no actual basis in the data for de Vaux’s confidence when in 1952 he announced the first findings at Qumran and declared that the scrolls of Cave 1 were deposited as late as the first century C.E., since the dating of the locus 2 scroll jar was uncertain. But de Vaux did not know this . . . the perception of certainty surrounding the First Revolt date for the scroll deposits remained uncorrected down to the present day. The first century C.E. dating of the Qumran text deposits is a classic example of a mistaken scholarly paradigm filtering subsequent perception of data (archaeological, paleographic, and radiocarbon), creating illusions of independent corroboration . . . 

(for full article click here)

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Allusions to the End of the Hasmonean Dynasty in Pesher Nahum (4Q169)

Gregory L. Doudna, “Allusions to the End of the Hasmonean Dynasty in Pesher Nahum (4Q169)”, in George Brooke and Jesper Høgenhaven, eds, The Mermaid and the Partridge. Essays from the Copenhagen Conference [June 2009] on Revising Texts from Cave Four (STJD 96; Leiden: Brill, 2011), pp. 259-78.

With the permission of the publisher I am making this article accessible on this website (here) since the book may be difficult to obtain (US$151 ordered from Brill in The Netherlands).

Taking up questions of interest to us but not to the texts’ ancient authors, the article argues that the Wicked Priest of Pesher Habakkuk was the final Hasmonean king, Antigonus Mattathias (ruled 40-37 BCE), an identification not previously proposed in Qumran scholarship. It is argued that the Teacher of Righteousness was Antigonus’s exiled adversary, Hyrcanus II (high priest 76-67 and 63-40 BCE). It is argued that the Community Rule texts (1QS and 4QS copies) do not reflect opposition to the temple or its priests. The article contains developments and corrections from my earlier 2001 study, 4Q Pesher Nahum: A Critical Edition.

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