Qumran Cave 12: Update 3

Discussion of the recent Qumran-vicinity cave finds since the previous post tracking the story here includes:

  • Ami Magazine (HT: Lawrence Schiffman): Information about the new cave find with a fuller discussion of matters related to earlier Qumran-vicinity finds. In the cave’s apparently blank parchment fragment, Schiffman also suggests we find evidence for how demonstrably later forgeries could still carbon date to the turn of the eras.
  • Bible History Daily (HT: Craig Evans and Jim Davila):  Discussion of the propriety of designating the new find as “Cave 12,” given that current reports indicate no scrolls have been recovered.
  • Christian Science Monitor (HT: Craig Evans) and Trinity Western University (HT: Craig Evans): Similar information to that found elsewhere.
  • National Geographic (HT: Craig Evans): Reports an estimate from Randall Price of “probably another 50 sites that merit investigating in the near future,” as well as comments like those summarized above from Lawrence Schiffman on how recent forgeries might appear on old material. In a humorous turn, Schiffman “shockingly” dispels hope of “find[ing] the diary of the three wise men” in possible further Judean Desert discoveries.
  • theLAB: Primarily reflections on the significance of previous Dead Sea Scroll finds with a couple comments on the new find similar to those provided elsewhere.

What seems to be shaping up as the key question about the status of this new find’s designation as “Cave 12” is the question “What makes a cave worthy of inclusion inside the numbering?”—actual textual finds tied to the location or simply a strong possibility that ancient texts were once located in the cave? Barring additional news about thus-far undisclosed contents from this cave, the apparently blank parchment showing text under multispectral examination, or known texts’ being re-provenanced to this cave, it seems more in keeping with the criteria applied to derive the existing 11-cave scheme not to include this new cave as a twelfth in that sequence. But, of course, the new find remains quite significant and reopens important questions about possible issues of provenance for texts currently classified as deriving from the standard 11 caves.

For further background and discussion, see Qumran Cave 12, Qumran Cave 12: Update, and Qumran Cave 12: Update 2.

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