Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On the DSS

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? These ancient parchments discovered by chance in desert caves by the Dead Sea tell mysteries about the mysterious Jewish sect that wrote them, and debunk a myth about Goliath's height while about it. (Elon Gilad, Haaretz).

This is a pretty good summary of the majority opinion about the Scrolls, with which I more or less agree. But I would like to nuance the confident identification of the Qumran sectarians with the Essenes, and I would be very caution about the uncritical harmonization of the sectarian texts with the accounts of the Essenes by Philo, Pliny, and Josephus.

Also, there are a few papyrus scrolls from Qumran in addition to all the parchment, and the extra passage about Nahash was already known through Josephus' retelling of the story before the Qumran Samuel manuscript was discovered.

For some related posts, see here, here, here, here, here, and here and follow the many links. Also relevant posts at the old Qumranica blog are here and here.