New Manuscripts from Qumran or other Sources I

Posted by admin on July 30, 2007

At the recent IOQS meetings not one but two sessions were devoted to the revelation of new fragments of manuscripts from Qumran and the vicinity which neither the scholars nor the public have ever seen before.

The first was that of Professor James Charlesworth which was presented on July 17th at the beginning of the afternoon session, section A, chaired by Dr. Annette Steudel.

Tuesday 17 July

Chair: Annette Steudel

14.30 James H. Charlesworth, Prolegomenous Reflections on an Unknown Copy of Genesis Perhaps from Qumran

The following content was published in the abstracts of the congress.

James H. Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary, USA

Prolegomenous Reflections on an Unknown Copy of Genesis Perhaps from Qumran

Over 35 manuscripts ostensibly from the Qumran Caves are known to exist. Images of each of these have been stored and will be published as soon as the owners allow me to do so. Now, I can announce the existence of a copy of Genesis. Its date and importance will be shared. An image and the transcription will be shown.

Tuesday 17 July 14.30, Room 1

This session was highly publicised and attended especially since it promised to reveal a fragment of the book of Genesis that had not been seen before.

The following web publications are available online:

Genesis Text Unveiled

New Genesis Text from the Judaean Desert

More will be added to this story in a later blog.

Qumran: Layer upon Layer

Posted by admin on July 26, 2007

The Multifaceted Stratigraphy of Qumran

(IOQS Handout)


From F.F. Bruce, S. Pfann, "Qumran" Encyclopedia Judaica

Summary of IOQS paper

Posted by admin on July 24, 2007

The Spectre of Qumran Cave 1: What if Cave 1 Had Not Been Discovered First?

(IOQS 2007 handout)

Stephen Pfann, Ph.D.

University of the Holy Land

In 2007 and 2008, we anticipate a number of conferences devoted to the 60th anniversary of the discovery of Cave 1. In 2006, the 50th anniversary of the discovery of Cave 11 passed by almost unnoticed.

What is now known as Cave 1 quickly became known as the "Grotte des manuscrits" or "the manuscipts Cave". And indeed it was the "Scroll Cave" par excellence. It had it all. Biblical Scrolls. Sectarian Scrolls. Commentaries. Hymns, calendars and rule books. Images of the future battle and pseudepigraphic works discovered in their original languages for the first time.

There appeared to be a single copy of each of the essential volumes of one group's library. Eleazar Sukenik first suggested the identification of the owners of these scrolls with a rather monastic Jewish order known as the Essenes, an identification subsequently affirmed by Roland de Vaux and a long list of others. Though some remained skeptical of this identification, subsequent discoveries worked in favor of the growing consensus.

In December 1951, four years after the discovery of Cave 1, Roland de Vaux connected its manuscript remains to the nearby site of Khirbet Qumran when he found one of the unique cylindrical jars, typical of Cave 1, embedded in the floor of the site.

The power of this suggestion was such that, from that point on, as each successive Judean Desert cave containing first century scrolls was discovered, they, too, were assumed to have originated from the site of Qumran. Excavations at the site of Qumran appeared to confirm the communal and religious nature of the inhabitants, with its revelation of numerous immersion pools, large community pantries, and abundant scribal implements, accompanied by a virtually all male cemetery. All of this was considered compelling evidence for connecting this site not only with the scrolls from the caves but also with the Essenes described by Josephus, Philo and Pliny the Elder.

As additional caves with manuscript remains in the vicinity of the first cave were discovered, the original Manuscripts Cave was renamed "Cave 1."

For us scholars, Cave 1 was the pace setter. It became the cave against which every subsequently discovered cave was to be compared. This paper will suggest that on the basis of location, material culture, manuscript collections, and manuscript dates, the Qumran caves do not represent the holdings of a single group. Although the Yahad character of Cave 1Q is clear, the Yahad character of certain of the other caves is unclear. For these select caves, based upon their divergent doctrinal character of their scrolls and the late dates of their material remains, it would seem quite reasonable that these remains were deposited by various Jewish groups who moved throughout the Judean wilderness at the close of the Second Temple Period (e.g., the Zealot refugees who escaped Jerusalem with Yehudah ben Yair. Jos., JW

1. Locations: the Caves of Qumran can be divided into five distinct clusters. (Note that, apparently in most cases, the contents of the caves in the cliffs reflect in-use libraries purposely hidden with the intention of being retrieved in the future, while the definable caves in the marl terraces close to Kh. Qumran were apparently genizot.)


SOUTHWEST SPUR: Caves 4Qa, 4Qb, 5Q and 10Q. The complex is located 80 meters southwest of the buildings of Qumran on a spur of the marl formation separated from the site by a narrow ravine. The Bedouin discovered caves 4Qa and 4Qb simultaneously, with the result that the fragments from the two caves arrived at the museum mixed and indistinguishable according to cave. Thus these adjacent but separate caves were delineated “4Q” by de Vaux with regard to the manuscripts and other items collected by the Bedouin. However, when describing the findings from his own excavations, de Vaux was able to distinguish them as “4Qa” and “4Qb”.

SOUTHERN SPUR: Caves 7Q, 8Q and 9Q. The complex is located at the southern end of the same marl terrace, 90 meters directly south of the building complex of Qumran and connected to it by the southern enclosure. The three caves, whose roofs had collapsed, are accessible only from within the confines of the enclosure wall.

CAVE CLUSTER OF THE NORTHERN CLIFFS: Caves 3Q and 11Q; Survey Caves GQ1–11; Caves A and B; PQ13, PQ24. The northern cliffs lie between the wadi that divides the cliffs two kilometers to the north of Qumran and the Rijm al-Asbah “the rock of the thumb,” about one kilometer further north.

CAVE CLUSTER OF THE CENTRAL CLIFFS: Caves 1Q, 2Q and 6Q; Survey Caves GQ12–21. This cluster stretches for one-half kilometer along the cliffs, about one and one-half kilometers to the north of Qumran.

CAVE CLUSTER OF QUMRAN’S WADI AND SOUTHERN CLIFFS: Survey Caves 6Q, GQ22–32, “Christmas Cave”. The caves of the southern cliffs lie along a one-half kilometer stretch south of the Wadi Qumran.

2. Different material cultures of caves (see accompanying chart):

Bleached fabrics found in Cave 11 alone; unbleached fabrics in Cave 1. Early (Qumran type) and late lamps in Cave 1; only late 1st century lamps found in other caves. Cylindrical jar which contained scrolls in Cave 1: Neutron Activation Analysis indicates Jericho and Qumran clay source; NAA also indicates that 75% of all other cylindrical jars (n.b., all first century CE according to ceramics experts) found in the caves derive from a Jerusalem clay source. This would imply that these particular cylindrical jars (none of which were found with scrolls inside) were transported from Jerusalem, perhaps serving as tithe jars. (See the Manchester Copper Scroll Conference volume.)

3. Differences in manuscript collections: Cave 1: purposely hidden, pristine manuscripts of significant Yahad compositions: Community Rule, Hodayot, Instruction; Ben Sira noticeably lacking. Cave 2: lay character, two megillot of Ruth; Cave 3: purposely hidden Biblical books, megillah of Lamentations, Copper Scroll; Caves 4 and 5: functioning repository of institutional library, not hidden for retrieval; Cave 6: Essene lay library--Damascus Document, megillah of Song of Songs; Caves 7-10, scanty remains but connected with Kh. Qumran due to location; Cave 11: Temple Scroll, Song of Sabbath Sacrifice, Ezekiel. This would imply that Cave 1 is Yahad in character while Caves 11, and possibly 3, reveal priestly, but non-Yahad, interests.

4. Epigraphic dates of the manuscript collections, which may provide a profile of the history of acquisitions for that collection: Cave 1: epigraphic dates span the late 2nd century BCE to the early first century CE, with peaks at the first and, in particular, the last quarter of the first century BCE. Cave 3: manuscripts are limited to the early first century CE, with a peak in the second quarter of that century. Cave 11: epigraphic dates span a period from the mid-first century BCE to the third quarter of the first century CE, with 55% of the manuscripts deriving from immediately before the destruction of the Temple. This would imply that the manuscripts of Caves 3 and 11 were deposited shortly before the destruction of the Temple, while the manuscripts of Cave 1 were deposited earlier in the first cent. CE.

Thus, to reiterate, Cave 1Q (and its associated caves, 4Q-6Q) is clearly Yahad in character. However, its strong profile has served as a filter through which we have assessed all the other caves. It would behoove us to reassess the other caves, first of all, on the merits of their own collections and material cultures, and then to make connections with the other caves, where such connections possibly exist. We should remember that the Judean Wilderness at the end of the first century CE was a busy region that saw various religious and rebel groups on the move. The large distances between the scroll caves, the clusters of the caves, and the dates of the manuscript deposits might lead us to suspect that not only the Yahad, but other Jewish religious groups deposited precious manuscripts, as well as other goods, in the caves of the Dead Sea area during this period.

For example, if we only had manuscripts from Qumran Cave 11, then...

Nearly all our of our manuscripts would be in beautiful, late Second Temple period scribal hands...

We would have no link to the Teacher of Righteousness...

Our rule book would focus on a Temple and not a community...

We would follow a pentecontad festival cycle, and one not limited to the commanded Biblical feasts...

We would have a different eschatology, based upon a 490 year plan of history following Jeremiah, and not a 390 + 40 year period based upon Ezekiel...

We would have a greater tolerance for pseudepigraphic authorship, as in the case of the Temple Scroll...

Our liturgy would not include the Hodayot...

And, as opposed to Cave 1Q and its associated caves, we would have no reason to suspect our group to be the Essenes of Josephus, Pliny and Philo.

For more information, see:

F. F. Bruce, S. Pfann, "Qumran," Encyclopedia Judaica, rev. ed., 2006.

1 Comment Read full post »

The Cave Clusters of Qumran

Posted by admin on July 23, 2007


The Cave Clusters of Qumran

(Handout at IOQS, Ljubljana)



The Spectre of Qumran Cave 1: What If Cave 1 Had Not Been Discovered First?

Stephen J. Pfann, Ph.D.

University of the Holy Land, Jerusalem


In 2007, a conference is duly devoting itself to the 60th Anniversary of the discovery of Cave 1. In 2006, the 50th Anniversary of the discovery of Cave 11 slipped by almost unnoticed. Why the disparity?

Most would agree that Cave 1 was the “Scroll Cave” par excellence. It had it all. Biblical scrolls, sectarian compositions; commentaries, hymns, calendars and rule books; eschatological battles and pseudepigraphic works in the original languages. Cave 1 was the pacesetter and became the standard against which every subsequently discovered cave was compared.

This paper seeks to examine the effect on Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship of this accidental discovery. It will explore the ramifications that the finding of Cave 1 first has had on shaping scholarly assumptions and reconstructions of the world of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Period Judaism. The paper will suggest other paradigms that might have been created, had Caves 2, 3, 11 and Masada been found first, for example. In doing so, it intends to scrutinizing the underlying assumption that the caves present a network of manuscript holdings belonging to a single group. The paper will also explore the reasons why scholars initially accepted such a unified picture of the caves (e.g., the presence of 364 day calendars), as well as the reasons that scholars are increasingly questioning such a picture (e.g., differing eschatologies and halakhot).

Finally, it will present a new paradigm for viewing the corpora of the scroll caves, based on the contents of the manuscripts, coupled with data concerning the archeological contents of the caves and the site of Qumran itself. Had not Cave 1 been discovered first, scholars would have seen a multifaceted picture of not a single sectarian library but an apparent multiplicity of libraries and the groups that collected them.

ioqs-2007w.jpg pfann-ljublyanaw.jpg

Ravenna, Venice, Ljubljana

Posted by admin on July 16, 2007

After the close of the Enoch seminar, the Pfanns traveled to Ravenna, Italy, where they encountered some beautiful 5th century Byzantine mosaics. The first photo is an example of what lies under the roofs of some of Ravenna's churches. The second graced their hotel room - at no extra charge!





After sightseeing in Venice, they arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where the conference marking the 60th anniversary of the finding of the Dead Sea scrolls begins today. Dr. Pfann will be presenting a paper to the International Organization of Qumran studies. His topic: the diversity of sources for the Qumran cave finds. If you are interested in learning more, Dr. Pfann recently summarized his ideas in these two blog posts: Unity and Diversity at Qumran I and Unity and Diversity at Qumran II.

Enoch and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Posted by admin on July 12, 2007

Visit the conferences online here:

The Fourth [International] "Enoch Seminar" "Enoch and the Mosaic Torah: The Evidence of Jubilees."

The Nineteenth Congress of The International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament

Camaldoli and Ljubljana

Posted by admin on July 07, 2007

From now until the 20th the Pfanns will be attending conferences in Europe dealing with Enoch (Camaldoli, Italy) and with the Dead Sea Scrolls (Ljubljana, Slovenia).

The Enoch Conference will be emphasizing the connections of Enoch with the Book of Jubilees.

The Qumran conference will emphasize the 60 years since the discovery of Cave 1.

We will be updating this site with some news as we travel.

1 Comment Read full post »

Metrics provide more evidence

Posted by admin on July 05, 2007


Earlier observations which are supported by the preceding images include:

"1.2 Inscription.

We examined all parts of the inscription with optivisors and a boom-supported stereomicroscope. For the purpose of this report, the “first part” of the inscription refers to the strokes making up the word “MARIAME,” and the “second part” of the inscription refers to the strokes constituting the words “KAI MARA.”

1.2.1 General characteristics of incisions.

The incisions in the chalk surface were distinguished by width, depth, the steepness of the sides of the trough and the form of the bottom. All strokes that make up the letters in the inscription share some similarities, which would suggest that a similar tool, with a bifurcated tip, was used throughout. A double groove appears in strokes that slope to the right, while strokes that are vertical or slope leftward have a “V”-shaped trough. From the discernible angle of execution of the various strokes, it is apparent that both parts of the inscription were made by right-handed writers. However, the similarities end there.

1.2.2 Unique characteristics of incisions.

Most of the strokes that make up the name MARIAME are comparatively shallow compared with those of the second part of the inscription. According to preliminary measurements, the width of the points of the instruments used to inscribe the first and the second parts of the inscriptions is different. Comparing similar strokes from all parts of the inscription, the strokes from the first part were consistently 80% to 90% narrower than those of the remainder of the inscription, whether the instrument was fully depressed or not. Troughs at the bottoms of the strokes were also distinguishable between the two parts. These measurements made it apparent that similar but clearly distinct tools had been used in the writing of the first and the last parts of the inscription. The drooping line that rides below the inscription is consistent with the strokes made by the second instrument."

Add to this, the maximum width of the tip from point to point of the bifurcated tip for the second part of the inscription is 1.o mm. The maximum width of the second is approximately .85 mm.

Apparently two separate tools were used to inscribe the two parts of the inscription.

Fireworks or Confetti?

Posted by admin on July 04, 2007

Deliberate Strokes or Inadvertent Scratches?


MARIAME KAI MARA with scratches

The inscription was created by 24 separate strokes with a specific type of engraving tool which was equipped with a sharp bifurcated tip (27 strokes if one includes the underscores). The incisions which are made by such a tool leave a double grooved trough at the bottom of the trough made by the incision, depending upon the angle of the stroke (in particular, the horizontal strokes). The bifurcated tip evidently allows the engraver to maintain better control while drawing each stroke.

There are 49 inadvertent scratches in and around the inscription (marked here in red). The superfluous scratches can be identified in that the troughs created by these scratches bear little resemblance to those of the inscription itself (e.g., lacking the double-grooved trough).


Cleaning Cavities and Scratches

Posted by admin on July 02, 2007

Since dried mud is compacted in the grooves that make up the inscription of CJO 704 (IAA 80.503) YESHUA (?) BEN/BAR YEHOSEF, the staff of UHL proposed cleaning the mud from the inscription in order to define the tools used in various parts of the inscription and to clarify the order of the succession of strokes that make up the letters. We also proposed making enlarged digital images of the strokes in order to understand the nature of the engraving process and the tools that were used.

To make tests on removing the mud UHL enlisted the aid of one of Jerusalem's leading dentists, Dr. Ari Greenspan D.M.D., who also has applied his skills and scientific background on various projects with UHL and other archaeological endeavors in Israel. Initial tests with an industrial water pick and irrigator were carried out on broken shards from ossuaries and then on scratches on ossuary 80.503 which were not part of the inscription, with the collaboration of Steven Cox from UHL and Oded Raviv from the IAA.

It was concluded that the industrial equipment would be unnecessary for the task since the dried mud softened with a light spray of distilled water. A fine, soft-tipped probe would likely be best used to then remove the mud. This less aggressive procedure should be effective and would protect the fine layer of patina that covers the side of the ossuary and the patina that presumably lines the walls of the grooves which make up the inscription.

[Dr. Greenspan has a web site which presents his valued work on the tekhelet purple/blue dye used in the production of the Biblically based fringes that were affixed to the corners of garments during the Biblical and Second Temple Periods.]

You can read more about his work by linking over to: Jerusalem Dentist.


Original report to the IAA:

In our preliminary report to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the so-called Jesus son of Joseph ossuary has mud, pressed deeply into the strokes of the letters of the inscription. The dried mud remained a problem in discerning the nature and the succession of letter strokes which were applied to the ossuary:

Preliminary Observations for an Ossuaries Report of the Talpiot Tomb

(Submitted to Miki Saban of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

By Stephen Pfann and Steven Cox

"On Thursday, May 3, 2007, four members of the University of the Holy Land staff visited the Israel Antiquities Authority storage facility at Beth Shemesh in order to study four inscribed ossuaries from the Talpiot Tomb. (The UHL staff members present were: Dr. Stephen Pfann (epigrapher), Steven Cox (forensic scientist), Stephen Pfann, Jr. (CGI/digital reconstruction) and Glenn Zehr.

Under the supervision of IAA warehouse supervisor, Miki Saban, his assistant opened the lids of ossuaries 80.500 (Mariame kai Mara) and 80.503 (Yeshua (?) bar Yehosef). The containers of samples that were gathered by Steven Cox during the filming a year ago, and which we had left in the ossuaries, were no longer in the ossuaries. (Also, the quantities of soil, pulverized bone material and seeds that were in ossuary 80.500, and are visible in the film, are now missing.)


3. CJO 704 (80.503) YESHUA (?) BEN/BAR YEHOSEF.

3.1 Surface condition and measurements.

We measured the ossuary and made a rubbing of the inscription on tracing paper. Similar to the inscription of ossuary 80.500, there are a couple of small black ink spots on its surface around the lettering, but not so numerous as on ossuary 80.500. The ossuary appears to have been broken and repaired since the previous visit a year ago.

3.2 Inscription.

We examined all parts of the inscription with optivisors and a boom-supported stereomicroscope. The incisions in the chalk surface were distinguished by width, and the steepness of the sides. However, the depth of the trough and the form of the bottom was nearly impossible to measure since dried mud now nearly fills most of the strokes of this inscription. The source of this mud is problematic, since no other ossuaries from this tomb have such a problem and since the mud was not present during the viewing one year ago. Moreover, the mud is most prominent in the grooves of the inscription, but not so much in other scratches on the ossuary.

3.2.1 General characteristics of incisions.

The incisions in the BEN/BAR YEHOSEF part of the inscription apparently were made by the tip a knife with a rounded, dull point. Most vertical strokes were relatively wide with gently sloping sides and a shallow, rounded trough. The horizontal strokes were thin and shallow. All three strokes of the letter "H" were made with the narrow line of the tip. The best letter in which to see the variable width of the knife tip is the final letter "F," where an entire rounded stroke is made without lifting the knife from the surface.

3.2.2 Unique characteristics of incisions.

In the first part of the inscription, strokes similar to those of BEN/BAR YEHOSEF appear, but connected with an earlier name which was later over-inscribed by the name YESHUA. The strokes that can be identified as part of the name YESHUA are made with an entirely different instrument. Its incisions have steeper more pronounced sides. However in certain cases, strokes from the earlier inscription have either been touched up or utilized “as is”, as part of the later inscription. Also, the cursive form of the script of YESHUA contrasts that of the rest of the inscription.

3.2.3 UV light test.

The presence of the dried mud was immediately apparent under the UV light source. Mud and soils absorb UV light with the result that the letters appear almost black on a slightly fluorescing limestone surface. Again, the presence of the dried mud in the incised inscription is unique among the ossuaries of this tomb."

0 Comments Read full post »