Golb, Who Wrote the
Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Reviewed by Robert M. Price.
Qumran a monastery? Norman Golb says no! The treasures listed on the
Copper Scroll could not conceivably have been the property of an ascetic
brotherhood of Essenes. Various other factors refuse to square with the
Essene monastery hypothesis. For instance, archaeological digging shows
that the Romans occupied the structure after a hard battle in which they
undermined the walls and set it on fire. This implies Qumran was an
armed camp. Classical sources, however, tell us that the Essenes were
sources tell us the Essenes were celibate, at least monastic ones. And
yet there graves of women at the settlement. Nor do any of the Dead Sea
Scrolls espouse strict celibacy. Golb admits they are the product of "an
Essene-like sect," perhaps more than one, since even the Manual of
Discipline and the Damascus Covenant have serious contradictions and
thus probably do not stem from a single sect. Did such different groups
live together at the same monastery? No, they must have come from
pesher-like identification of Qumran with the Damascus mentioned in the
text seems arbitrary. Why not take to refer to the real Damascus?
caches of Qumran-like scrolls have been found all over the region. Ca.
800 AD, the Nestorian Patriarch Timotheus I of Seleucia refers in a
letter to a recent discovery of Hebrew MSS in a cave near Jericho. They
included canonical and noncanonical manuscripts, including over two
hundred psalms. Origen said the Greek Bible version filling the sixth
column of the Hexapla was found with other Hebrew and Greek books in a
jar near Jericho during the reign of Caracalla fifty years earlier.
would imply Qumran was merely one of several hiding places for scrolls
brought there from elsewhere, presumably from the Jerusalem Temple,
since it must be the Temple treasure recorded in the Copper Scroll. To
avoid this last conclusion, scholars had dismissed the Copper Scroll as
a deranged fantasy or as a collection of local folk traditions on buried
identified as a scriptorium at Qumran does not justify the designation:
the type of table there could have been used for copying only with great
difficulty. Ancient depictions of scribes do not show them sitting at
such tables. Debris does not contain a trace of parchment, papyrus,
scribal tools like styluses or line markers. Unlike medieval scriptoria,
nothing indicates that this room was situated amid chambers or halls
dedicated to academic or meditative use. Instead it is adjacent to a
defensive tower. No evidence suggests that we have a single autograph
manuscript, nor personal letter, nor documentary writing pertaining to
the sect. This is odd if the Scrolls were produced at the Qumran site.
It is more consistent with their having been moved there from a library.
All copies of everything seem to be just that: copies.
concludes that the scrolls represent the writings of the Jewish people
as a whole, and that the utter absence of any trace of Rabbinic Judaism
or of Palestinian Christianity in the Scrolls indicates that these
movements did not exist in Jerusalem before 70 AD or were just then
coming into being