Thursday, May 15, 2014

Norman Golb - Who Deposited the Scrolls Found in the Judean Desert?

Who Deposited the Scrolls Found in the Judean Desert? (Including comments on Norman Golb's book, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, Chapter 10, The Deepening Scrolls Controversy) 

Norman Golb asked the question: Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?  Well, did the 'Christians' write the entire bible including the Old and New Testament?  I think not.  I don't even believe that the 'Christians' wrote the whole of the New Testament, but that some books were developed from prophetic manuscripts which were written originally at a time of increasing differences between prophets and priests.  So to ask the question: who wrote the dead sea scrolls? is not the same as asking the question: who deposited the dead sea scrolls?  It is relatively easy to understand that the Scrolls were originally written by many different people at different times, and that many of the Scrolls had an original use in a more tolerant Judaism.   But who actually deposited the Scrolls at Qumran and elsewhere?  I don't believe that it was Jewish people in general with a wide variety of different ideas, but that they were priests united in their zeal for the law. 

The priests had changed their tune, over a period of approximately 200 years from the time of Judas Maccabeus, who was born a priest but converted to the prophets.  The conversion of the Maccabean family to the prophets was the trigger for the the priests becoming so militant and anti-prophet that it led to them forming what is popularly called a sect, by such as Schiffman.     

On page 285 of Who Wrote the Dead Sea scrolls, Golb says that in 1982, Maurice Baillet published texts from Cave 4.  The War Scroll (a Yahad text, of the priests who had joined or converted to form the so-called unity sect) was one of those texts.  There were 15 liturgical fragments among them. Subsequent analysis revealed that, quoting Golb, "the fragments contained none of the characteristic vocabulary or ideas of the Yahad texts".  

That the texts found at Qumran and in the Judean desert are inhomogenious is to be expected. The controversial, revolutionary, 'zealous for the law' texts had been confiscated shortly after the death of Herod. These manuscripts were held first by Herod's son Aristobulus, then by Aristobulus's son Agrippa I.  They were stored in the king's archives.  The Herodians were afraid that these texts could be used to ferment revolution.  Priests of course, had an interest in the 'zealous for the law' texts that they wrote themselves, and the liturgical texts, and other traditional Jewish texts.  

From the death of Herod onwards, the priests were in 'exile' in their towns and villages. When the priests rose-up, they killed Agrippa, attacked and occupied various fortresses, including Machaerus, Qumran and Masada, and they ransacked the king's archives.  This was a local revolt by the priests, not the widespread revolt imagined in the writings attributed to Josephus. They took all the manuscripts they could lay their hands on including the 'sectarian' texts, and the other traditional Jewish literature.  Then they set fire to the archives, and took the manuscripts to Qumran to wait for the inevitable arrival of the Romans.  The priests would have had little time to read and organise the manuscripts.

On page 287, Golb says: "Josephus describes at length the internecine strife among Jewish factions in Jerusalem in the months before the Roman siege, and the severe damage it caused to the Jerusalem archives and other buildings in the city."  I have maintained on my blog, that there was no Roman siege (for which there is no archaeological evidence) and that the so-called 'Jerusalem' archives were the archives of the Herodians, and latterly Agrippa I. The priests wanted their manuscripts back.  There was a mad scramble to get them before the archives were burned.  Golb's internecine strife was between the priests on one side and king Agrippa I with his soldiers and prophets on the other.  The Romans under Cestius are falsely portrayed in Josephus as having been sent packing by the 'rebels'.  Cestius was never in Jerusalem. 

The bible (the Old Testament of the Pentateuch and Prophets) had been translated from Hebrew to Greek in Egypt by the prophets and supporters of the prophets.  It contained a balance between priestly texts and prophetic texts.  The separation of the priests from the prophets was already underway.  Priests developed some of that literature, basically the Prophets, to suit their own ends?  These included all the pesher material.  In effect this was a deliberate pollution of the prophetic texts.  The Pentateuch largely remained untouched.   

Similarly,  some of the Christian texts were developed from prophetic texts, by ex priests working for Vespasian and Titus.  The pattern of working had been previously established by the priests.  The ex-priests (in effect the 'official' early Christians) developed existing texts produced by prophets and added extensively to them.  As for the prophetic manuscripts, we no longer have them of course. We can make intelligent guesses what they were.   

There was thus a big difference between the 'christians' or prophets (the anointed ones, the christianos - as the inscription found at Pompeii) and the later Christians.  The christianos, or 'christians', were prophets.  They were backed by Nero whose forces came in 66 to put paid to the priests, but not destroy the temple.  There had been no altar for burnt offerings from the time of Herod.  Five years after 66 (five years of peace not revolt), Vespasian and Titus ransacked the temple for its treasure.  They exported the 800 or so defending prophets (the real 'christians') that remained standing.  This was for the emperor' s misclaimed triumph.  They pursued and annihilated those that escaped.  In their propaganda, the blame for all of this was placed on the dead Nero.

In Chapter 10, of Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, page 284, Golb quotes Philip Davies of Sheffield University.  Golb wrote: at the heart of biblical archaeology lay "the goal of integrating literary and non-literary evidence" (the Davies quote is in inverted commas) .   The archaeology or non-literary evidence Davies was referring to was that of Qumran, and the literary evidence was the Scrolls found at Qumran (and presumably the Scrolls found in the Judean desert).  But it is with other literature, in particular the writings attributed to Josephus, that I have problems. The writings attributed to Josephus distort the true history and lead scholars to false conclusions about Qumran and the literature found there.  On the same page, 284, Golb quotes Davies as saying that at Qumran there was "evidence of military attack"  and that there was a "well fortified tower inaccessible at ground level".  (There is apparently no mention of Qumran, the attack, or the military nature of Qumran in the writings attributed to Josephus.)   Golb further quotes Davies saying that the "excavated structure" was not a monastery, as reported by many scholars, but a fortress.  I have maintained in this blog that the evidence for the destruction of Qumran is in fact given, but obfuscated, in the writings attributed to Josephus.  Qumran was taken in a three-pronged attack on Machaerus, Qumran and Masada by Nero's army in 66.

I heard Davies speak at a recent conference on Brian and Jesus.  It seems that he and Golb have similar ways of thinking.