Saturday, August 19, 2006


I posted on the NYT Qumran article earlier this week (see post below), which discussed a new article and book outlining the evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls cannot be tied to the Qumran community or the Essenes. Showing up in my inbox this morning, however, was an email from Ferrell Jenkins pointing me to Todd Bolen's response to the NYT piece. Mr. Bolen, shall we say, dissents from the revisionist view:
That Qumran was not home to the Essenes has been suggested before, with theories that identify the site as everything from a Roman villa, military fortress, fortified farm, and now a pottery factory. To be sure, Magen and Peled are respected scholars who have excavated at Qumran. But their view is clearly in the minority. When you read a statement like this, "There is not an iota of evidence that it was a monastery," red flags should be flying. That the majority of scholars would hold to a certain interpretation without one iota of evidence tells us more about the speaker than the theory. That the only outside scholar that the NYT quotes is Norman Golb should cause all the bells to be sounding. Anyone who has spent time in the area has to just bust out laughing when reading Magen's idea that these caves are “the last spot they could hide the scrolls before descending to the shore” of the Dead Sea. I can just picture these guys running away from the Romans and just stopping by Cave 1 to drop off some scrolls! Oh wait, we need some jars for these - quick, run to the pottery factory and bring some back here! Those who have been to Cave 1 will understand the humor more; it's not exactly "on the way" (Cave 2 even less so). The proximity of Caves 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 to the site is telling as well. They are all less than 50 meters from the inhabitation. The attempts to separate the scrolls from the site are an utter failure.

Certainly read the entire post. His points not only about the evidence itself, but also about balance in reporting on such issues are well taken. The moral of this story: always be on your guard when you read the New York Times!

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