Qumran Cave 12: Update 2

James VanderKam, via University of Notre Dame

In a short interview published by the University of Notre Dame, James VanderKam urges caution about labeling the recent Dead Sea find as “Cave 12.” Comparisons have previously been drawn between the new find and Cave 8, which comes inside the numbering but contained no scrolls.

VanderKam comments,

In 1952, after the earliest scrolls finds, archaeologists made a survey of hundreds of caves and openings in the general vicinity of Khirbet Qumran…. Some 230 of them contained nothing of interest, but 26 housed pottery like that found in the first scrolls cave…. [G]iven the fact that other caves in the district, besides the 11 that held the Dead Sea Scrolls, contained pottery of the same sort as Qumran Cave 1, it seems a bit premature to call [the new find] Qumran Cave 12.

Whether the new find should indeed come inside the numbering of the scrolls caves would apparently depend on how things settle out regarding: (a) material apparently blank on visual inspection but needing to be subjected to multispectral analysis, (b) any contents that can be linked chemically or otherwise to other finds in other caves where texts have been recovered, or (c) other texts previously thought to have come from other caves but that might be demonstrated to have come from the new find.

Incidentally, the point about the comparison with Cave 8 (e.g., Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is the absence of scroll-type texts in what was recovered from that cave. Although not scroll-type texts, five fragmentary texts were recovered from Cave 8 (cf. The Dead Sea Scrolls). On this basis, all caves in the customary 11-fold accounting would share in common the fact that texts were (identified as) recovered from them—something that it can’t yet be said for the new find—rather than simply that texts had likely been stored there at some point.

(N.B.: My earliest post on the new cave find initially commented imprecisely that “no texts were found in [Cave 8].” I’ve now corrected this statement to reflect more properly that “no scroll-type texts were found in [Cave 8].”)

HT: Jim Davila. For the full text of piece containing VanderKam’s reflections, see the Notre Dame website. For previous discussion and further links about the new Qumran find, see Qumran Cave 12Qumran Cave 12: Update, and LogosTalk.

Qumran Cave 12: Update

Since my previous post about Qumran Cave 12, a few other noteworthy articles have cropped up, including on:

Much of what is in these articles about the new find is also in other reports. But, the Times piece confirms that

Experts at the Dead Sea Scroll Laboratories in Jerusalem … plan to carry out multispectral imaging of the [apparently blank parchment fragment] to reveal any ink invisible to the naked eye.

Such plans weren’t entirely clear from what I’d seen thus far, though it would seem to be a logical step for the sake of thoroughness. Kudos to Jim Davila for his correct prior speculation about how to interpret some of the previous and seemingly more ambiguous comments touching these plans.

Qumran Cave 12

Working under the auspices of Operation Scroll, archaeologists have discovered what is being numbered as the twelfth scroll cave in the vicinity of Khirbet Qumran.

New Qumran cave location
New Qumran cave location. Photo credit: Randall Pierce, via theLAB
Entrance to Qumran Cave 12
Fault cliff and cave 12 entrance on the left. Photo credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld, via Haaretz

Work in the new cave has produced no new texts, but both linen (characteristic of scroll wrappers found elsewhere) and blank parchment fragments suggest that texts probably were stored in the cave at some point. Since no [scroll-type] texts were found in this cave, as with cave 8, the new cave’s designation will likely be Q12 rather than 12Q. [Updated 15 February 2017. For explanation of this correction, please see Qumran Cave 12: Update 2.]

Remnant of scroll found in Cave 12. Photo credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld, via Haaretz
Blank, rolled parchment remnant found in Cave 12. Photo credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld, via Haaretz

At this point, the total contents of the cave seem to be:

  • Two mid-twentieth-century pickax heads (presumably from previous looters of the cave)
  • Remains of six jars of the same type as those containing scrolls in other caves
  • Linen fragments
  • Papyrus and parchment fragments
  • Connecting fragments
  • A leather strap and string consistent with those used with scrolls
  • Arrowheads and knives
  • A carnelian stamp seal

This new cave find and its contents are definitely interesting. But, for texts that have reached the market through Bedouins, the discovery—and apparent prior looting of the new cave—also opens new questions about the accuracy of standing assessments of the caves in which these texts were found.

At least one of the team that has excavated this twelfth cave, Randall Price, professor and museum curator at Liberty University, thinks he has a lead on a thirteenth cave with a currently-obscured entrance. Whether that lead will pan out is yet to be seen, but a twelfth cave’s discovery is certainly exciting in itself.

For further discussion and original reports digested here, see Craig Evans (Twitter, theLAB), Dan Wallace, Haaretz, Hebrew University of Jerusalemi24newsJerusalem Post, and Jim Davila. For well-put humor, see Ian N. Mills.

Sacred Texts and Paradigmatic Revolutions in Paperback

David Stark, "Sacred Texts and Paradigmatic Revolutions"The kind folks at Bloomsbury (the parent company of the T&T Clark imprint) have recently mentioned that a paperback release is forthcoming for my Sacred Texts and Paradigmatic Revolutions: The Hermeneutical Worlds of the Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts and the Letter to the Romans. Slated for this June, the paperback, at a $29.95 list price, will be a fiscally welcome complement to the current hardback ($120.00) and PDF ($27.99) formats. The paperback is already available for pre-order on Amazon, currently at just under the list price.

Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts Update in Logos

After having the product available for over 10 years, Logos Bible Software has released a substantive update to their Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts database (ed. Martin Abegg). Most significant among this update’s improvements are that the resource:

  • Now contains more than 100 scrolls than in the previous version (737 documents are now represented).
  • Several texts in the previous version have been reorganized to reflect the latest scholarship on their reconstruction.
  • The database’s morphology has been updated to WHM 4.18.

For more information, please see the Logos blog.

Sacred Texts and Paradigmatic Revolutions

Stark, Sacred Texts and Paradigmatic RevolutionsThe latest Bloomsbury Highlights notes the newly available volume 16 in the T&T Clark Jewish and Christian Texts Series. The volume is a revision of my 2011 dissertation at Southeastern Seminary and primarily explores paradigmatic, or presuppositional, aspects of the hermeneutics at play in Romans and some of the Qumran sectarian texts.

Bloomsbury presently has the hardback on sale for 10% off and is also making PDFs available at a still more substantially reduced price.

Review of Biblical Literature Newsletter (October 31, 2012)

The latest reviews from the Review of Biblical Literature include:

New Testament and Cognate Studies

Second Temple Judaism

Kindling Cave 4?

Amazon’s selection of texts available for the Kindle platform occasionally includes some interesting oddities. For instance, those who really want to do so can apparently read the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert volumes 10 (4QMMT) and 16 (cave 4 calendrical texts) on Kindle for a mere $239.20 and $254.34 respectively, without print-equivalent page numbers. Or, used hard covers are available for just under $180. 😉