Sunday, July 11, 2004

We were treated to a very pleasant lunch today and afterwards discussed Barbara Theiring's work with our host. Naturally, I was quite dismissive but thought it worth checking out some web resources to get the latest thinking. The most important new developments in the world of the Dead Sea Scrolls are that they are now firmly redated. Previously they were widely thought to have been deposited about 68AD when the Romans overran the Qumran settlement where the scrolls were discovered. Now, as this article on Redating to the Scrolls shows, the pottery they were placed in dates to the first century BC. That is about 100 years earlier. This date is confirmed by palaeogrpahy and existing carbon dating of scroll scraps to the same period. The new dating makes any connection with Jesus, who lived from about 5BC to 30AD, completely impossible as the scrolls had been buried long before he or his followers were born.

This means that theories like Theiring's, and more notably Robert Eisenman's "James, the Brother of Jesus", that link the Dead Sea Scrolls to early Christianity have been proved wrong. They were not exactly cutting much ice in the scholarly community anyway, but now they are dead and buried. It will be interesting to see if we hear any kind of retraction from these authors as a result of the new dating.

No comments: