Sidnie White Crawford discusses handwriting discoveries by Ada Yardeni
Ada Yardeni identified the handwriting of a single ancient scribe on Qumran scrolls found in six different caves. According to Sidnie White Crawford, the discovery of a single scribal hand in multiple caves suggests that “the scribe was a member of that sect who also copied Jewish scriptural scrolls, countering the idea that the Qumran collection was a non-sectarian ‘general Jewish’ library.” Moreover, she argues that a single scribe’s penmanship in multiple caves counters the idea that each cave reflects a separate collection belonging to a different Jewish group.
Ada Yardeni noticed that the ancient scribe who penned these Qumran scrolls also penned an apocryphon woven on the Book of Joshua that was discovered at Masada. The text bears resemblance to certain Qumran scrolls, and even before Yardeni’s handwriting analysis, scholars suggested that the manuscript may have been the product of a Qumran scribe.
Sidnie White Crawford establishes a second scribal connection between Masada and the Qumran scrolls. Nine copies of the sectarian Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice manuscript were discovered in two caves at Qumran, and another was discovered at Masada in the same locus as the Joshua Apocryphon. Sidnie White Crawford posits that “it seems likely that some manuscripts from Qumran were carried south by refugees fleeing the Roman destruction of Qumran in 68 C.E. But that’s only a best guess.”
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Cheek-by-jowl with Herod the Great’s handsomely decorated palace complex at Masada are the tattered remains of the Jewish defenders who, Josephus tells us, committed suicide rather than surrender to the Roman army. Did Masada excavator Yigael Yadin find the lots by which the Jewish rebels decided who would be the last to live? Back to Masada, edited by Hebrew University professor Amnon Ben-Tor, brings the siege of Masada vividly to life.
This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in November 2012.
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I am fascinated by Ada Yardeni’s discovery… I am not a scholar in any way, shape or form. I don’t even speak or read Hebrew but my fascination has me learning something every day… And I am not sure if I am right, but I found 2 distinct hand writings on the Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll…. Ada, have you noticed this or am I in error?
One thing that has bewildered me about the DSS, what other documents were they copied from?
Think about it, there is at least 600-800 years of history of the nation of Israel until the time these scrolls were written & stored away in those caves. This tells me there are more documents even older than the DSS. That would be the real treasure trove to find.
Obviously that scribe must have been a good copyist in order to be responsible for so many of the ‘scrolls’ found around the Dead Sea and Masada.
Amazing that invariably whilst there is a fascination for the nature and origins and history of the DSS and Qumran, and enormous effort is expended in obtaining translations of the DSS, very few scholars bother to try and explain the extraordinary anomalies in the underlying meaning of the texts. They just seem happy to accept them for what they superficially say. One day someone will respond to my claims that there are huge black holes in our understanding of the scrolls- or are academics just too scared to take up the challenge.
IT WAS ME
Why would a single scribe imply it was not a non-sectarian general Jewish library? Maybe the refugees fleeing the Roman destruction of Qumran selected a section from a general library?
Bernard, I feel likeyou started on some excellent critical thinking. The evidence as presented might suggest a nonstick Terrien general Jewish Library, however, it cannot be ruled out that the scribe might of been someone people sought out and employed, therefore leading a broader distribution of his works.
There is evidence of this kind of event in pottery both in the new and old world. It is not enough for people to make a hypothesis and assume that there evidence is adequate support, they also need to demonstrate evidence disproving other hypotheses if possible. Unfortunately I rarely see that in this magazine.
My apologies, I used dragon speak without editing before submitting! “… non sectarian …”
Did the mystery scribe make any “corrections” to 1QIsa?
Since the last scroll was penned in 38, there is no connection between this scribe and Masada. What happened to his scrolls afterwards is anybody’s guess.
While there are thousands of possibilities surrounding the Scrolls, and we can only speculate based on the incomplete evidence, I find it quite a curiosity that so many funda mentalist Christians (at least here in Louisiana) have never heard of the Scrolls, Masada, or any other realities surrounding that time period. Just the King James Bible & whatever their preacher tells them (which becomes holy writ as soon as they hear it)
Equally the scribe could have been based in, for example, Jerusalem with the scrolls reaching Qumran and Masada at widely different times.
From the opening paragraph, we learn that this scribe’s work was found at BOTH locations.
“over 50 Qumran scrolls penned by the same scribe; moreover, she identified a manuscript from the desert fortress at Masada written by the same scribe.”
This strengthens our understanding that the scribes working in settlements below the Qumran caves, hid what they could, and then fled to the Masada fortress avoiding the Roman invasion
Tantalizing information. What exactly is the connection between the writer of these Qumran Scrolls and Masada?
Ada Yardeni, kol ha havod!