Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

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Aedes
 
Reply Mon 16 Mar, 2009 09:28 pm
Interesting article:

Scholar Claims Dead Sea Scrolls 'Authors' Never Existed - TIME

Quote:
Biblical scholars have long argued that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of an ascetic and celibate Jewish community known as the Essenes, which flourished in the 1st century A.D. in the scorching desert canyons near the Dead Sea. Now a prominent Israeli scholar, Rachel Elior, disputes that the Essenes ever existed at all - a claim that has shaken the bedrock of biblical scholarship.

Elior, who teaches Jewish mysticism at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, claims that the Essenes were a fabrication by the 1st century A.D. Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus and that his faulty reporting was passed on as fact throughout the centuries. As Elior explains, the Essenes make no mention of themselves in the 900 scrolls found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947 in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea. "Sixty years of research have been wasted trying to find the Essenes in the scrolls," Elior tells TIME. "But they didn't exist. This is legend on a legend."
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 05:32 am
@Aedes,
It doesn't seem to me that Ms Elior's argument that the Essenes don't mention themselves in the scrolls carries any weight - unless she can point to other possible authors who do mention themselves.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 06:32 am
@Aedes,
But part of her argument is that the people who do mention them are not credible sources, though.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 06:37 am
@Aedes,
Yea I saw this in the news this morning. I think it raises valid concerns; how valid depends on ones' evaluation of the sources. For my part, they hold no significance whatsoever, so it's no more than another rebuttal on something that was irrelevant in the first place.

Still, interesting reading. Thanks for posting.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 06:42 am
@Aedes,
Quote:
But part of her argument is that the people who do mention them are not credible sources, though.
Fine, and I agree that the idea of a large and unorthodox cult leaving no footprint in recorded history is suspicious. However, her opponents do point out that "Essene" wasn't even a word used by the Essenes (assuming they existed).

Having just been introduced to the Essenes myself I'm not too bothered if they get erased from history - and I can see how they are a somewhat sensationalisticly described cult - and therefore likely to be fictional.

They do share a number of qualities with other cults, and I don't see her point about them venerating celibacy as being incompatible with "go forth and multiply" as damningly valid. For example the Cathars did likewise, justifying that certain parts of holy scripture were influenced by a satanic demiurge. Some scholars suggest that this is because they were influenced by Zoroastrian/Manicheist ideas.

However, as an opening argument "they didn't mention themselves and therefore cannot be the authors" is pretty weak - unless there are other people claiming to be the authors mentioned in the text.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 06:42 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;53860 wrote:
it's no more than another rebuttal on something that was irrelevant in the first place.
It's sort of irrelevant to me, because I don't think about this subject much. But I think what's relevant is to figure out how representative the Scrolls were of prevailing culture at the time, and if their authors were from the general population (rather than some nomads living up in caves) it does have relevance to our understanding of the period, right?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 17 Mar, 2009 06:51 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
It's sort of irrelevant to me, because I don't think about this subject much. But I think what's relevant is to figure out how representative the Scrolls were of prevailing culture at the time, and if their authors were from the general population (rather than some nomads living up in caves) it does have relevance to our understanding of the period, right?


Yes, completely. I think my grinding-axe was showing there a bit. Surprised

Another possibility it brings up (and one that I'm seeing more of, as I learn more about history) is the profuseness of after-the-fact 'histories'; an attempt to capture or record what a person or culture thought happened with 'X' yet posited as "the real record".
 
Elmud
 
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 09:22 pm
@Aedes,

Does it really matter who wrote them? No one really knows who the author of Isaiah is either. Why does it matter?
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Wed 25 Mar, 2009 03:56 am
@Aedes,
Interesting to know or try to find out, really.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 25 Mar, 2009 03:03 pm
@Dave Allen,
Elmud wrote:
Does it really matter who wrote them? No one really knows who the author of Isaiah is either. Why does it matter?


We do not know who, individually, wrote Isaiah, but we know the community that produced the work. And that seems to be the aim of scholars at the moment: identifying the community which produced the scrolls.
 
Elmud
 
Reply Wed 25 Mar, 2009 07:46 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
We do not know who, individually, wrote Isaiah, but we know the community that produced the work. And that seems to be the aim of scholars at the moment: identifying the community which produced the scrolls.
I think that is the beauty of it. We do not know. I do not know why we would need to know. But, curiosity is human nature.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2009 07:10 am
@Aedes,
Ido not think there is any consensus about who wrote these scrolls

The Essenese seem the most likely candidates
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 1 Apr, 2009 05:40 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:

The Essenese seem the most likely candidates


That's precisely the issue though: the link Aedes provides is to an article about a scholar who argues that the Essenes never existed. If the Essenes did not exist, the Essenes could not have produced the Dead Sea Scrolls.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Wed 1 Apr, 2009 07:06 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas


Quote:

That's precisely the issue though: the link Aedes provides is to an article about a scholar who argues that the Essenes never existed. If the Essenes did not exist, the Essenes could not have produced the Dead Sea Scrolls.


Who were the group of scribe that lived in the area by the Dead Sea below the caves where these documents where found?

And I cant see how they could have produced them all, many of them were already very old parchments at the epoch in which they were supposedly written

But as you can see by my misspelling of Essenese instead of the correct Essenes, all this is from memory, correct me if I am wrong
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 1 Apr, 2009 09:10 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:

Who were the group of scribe that lived in the area by the Dead Sea below the caves where these documents where found?


I have no idea who lived in the area. If you read the article posted by Aedes, the scholar who suggests the Essenes never existed does have a theory about who authored the DSS.

I really do recommend reading the article; it isn't very long, anyway.

Alan McDougall wrote:
And I cant see how they could have produced them all, many of them were already very old parchments at the epoch in which they were supposedly written


The question is: who is "they"? Traditional and even conventional wisdom is that "they" are a group called the Essenes, but, as you will find in the article, there is some serious doubt about whether or not the Essenes even existed.
 
 

 
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