neilgodfrey wrote: ↑Mon Feb 13, 2023 2:44 am
I did a search on the topics listed here and failed to find a thread that addresses the question of the most current evidence for the earliest dating of any of the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you know I have missed something then do please let me know.
I'm not interested in posts about "expected findings" but in pointers to discussions of work that has actually been done and tested.
Mladen Popović and Maruf Dhali of the University of Groningen have a well-funded project that combines radiocarbon dating and AI-assisted paleography to refine current dates for the Dead Sea Scrolls and their associated scripts. I forget the name of their project offhand. They haven't published their results but have discussed some of their research in conferences, including some lectures available online. At present a handful of the earliest biblical texts are dated to ca. 250-200 BCE.
Partly because research is ongoing, for instance, with now assigning some text date range estimates and tests earlier than the estimates of, for example, FM Cross, there is, apparently, no currently completely accepted presentation.
I think we, or some, may see that illustrated here with my view, which was contested here, that, **if** Michael Langlois' date estimates are valid (an open question), then the RE Gmirkin claim of Torah being first written in the 270s is probably not compatible.
For a now somewhat outdated summary survey, though, there is, among others:
Webster, Brian. “Chronological Index of the Texts from the Judaean Desert.” Pages
351–446 in The Texts from the Judaean Desert: Indices and an Introduction to the
Discoveries in the Judaean Desert Series. Edited by Emanuel Tov. DJD 39. Oxford:
And here is what I don't get. Before Qumran we had limited literary evidence. So one discovery changes everything. What would the earliest dating for Jewish religious literature have been without Qumran? Surely the discovery wasn't "providential." It wasn't established by a god to show us literary evidence from "just after the creation of the Torah." It was a cache of documents. There might be other caches or remains from caches from an even earlier or later period. There is no reason to think that this is the earliest Jewish religious documents ever made. It's just a unique set of circumstances which led to their preservation. As such it would seem that given that all our existing literary evidence from the beginning of the Common Era assumes the existence of the Torah many centuries before Qumran it is more likely than not that there are third century BCE and fourth century BCE remains lurking somewhere assuming that the same unique set of circumstances which led to the preservation of Qumran were replicated in previous centuries. There is no reason to think Qumran was forged or a "time capsule" as it were from the "beginning of Judaism" here in this desert community which itself references a split from a main body in Jerusalem. Even Qumran suggests Judaism existed in the fourth century BCE. How did this split occur? How long since the Teacher of Righteousness? If there are third century BCE documents among the Qumran fragments the likelihood is that Judaism existed a century or more before the fragments for there to have been this split and the split between Judaism and Samaritanism etc. We gone through all of this before.
rgprice wrote: ↑Sun Feb 19, 2023 9:43 am
To follow-up on this. What is the most reputable and widely accepted citation for the dating of the materials from the DSS?
Do you want a single bibliographic citation or just a single date that is most commonly accepted? I thought Russell Gmirkin's reference to publications by Mladen Popović and Maruf Dhali are uncontroversial. I linked to their articles here, FWIW. 250 BCE seems to be the generally repeated date for the oldest DSS that I come across fairly regularly in the lit.
I have mentioned here the work of Michael Langlois and the work of "The Hands that Wrote the Bible" project, and noted that both, compared to some previously-made ms datings, give some earlier dates.
Earlier dates for some Torah ms--if valid!--may be one reason to exclude some other Torah-creation scenarios.
An example of suppression would be if person A wrote a comment about the posthumus book of Thomas S. Kuhn and person B blocked it. (Kuhn, of course, did not coin nor own the word "paradigm," but he wished that when other people used that word outside of the context of the history of science, they would not present it as if he agreed with such.)
Some Carbon-14 or radiocarbon results have been released but not all. For the rest, they are waiting for paleographers to calculate their dates and compare and contrast. Why, because the Carbon-14 data has some surprising (shocking?) results. In short, Robert Eisenman will be both pleased and greatly disappointed.
Keep in mind, Carbon-14 testing gives a date range not an actual day, month, year.
So, because Carbon-14 and paleography doesn't match perfectly, doubters will have an out for not accepting the scientific findings.