Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Crisis In Modern Biblical Scholarship

National Geographic has a story about it all.
The recent decoding of a cryptic cup, the excavation of ancient Jerusalem tunnels, and other archaeological detective work may help solve one of the great biblical mysteries: Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The new clues hint that the scrolls, which include some of the oldest known biblical documents, may have been the textual treasures of several groups, hidden away during wartime—and may even be "the great treasure from the Jerusalem Temple," which held the Ark of the Covenant, according to the Bible.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered more than 60 years ago in seaside caves near an ancient settlement called Qumran. The conventional wisdom is that a breakaway Jewish sect called the Essenes—thought to have occupied Qumran during the first centuries B.C. and A.D.—wrote all the parchment and papyrus scrolls.

But new research suggests many of the Dead Sea Scrolls originated elsewhere and were written by multiple Jewish groups, some fleeing the circa-A.D. 70 Roman siege that destroyed the legendary Temple in Jerusalem.

"Jews wrote the Scrolls, but it may not have been just one specific group. It could have been groups of different Jews," said Robert Cargill, an archaeologist who appears in the documentary Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls, which airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel. (The National Geographic Channel is part-owned by the National Geographic Society, which owns National Geographic News.)

The new view is by no means the consensus, however, among Dead Sea Scrolls scholars.

"I have a feeling it's going to be very disputed," said Lawrence Schiffman, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University (NYU).
In other words, scholars make up theories - sell them as legitimate - make a TV special out of them - and then have it all debunked, yet keep on trucking along as if they are still right. Thus, the story continues with this part later on:
Not everyone agrees with the idea that Dead Sea Scrolls may hail from beyond Qumran.

"I don't buy it," said NYU's Schiffman, who added that the idea of the scrolls being written by multiple Jewish groups from Jerusalem has been around since the 1950s.

"The Jerusalem theory has been rejected by virtually everyone in the field," he said.

"The notion that someone brought a bunch of scrolls together from some other location and deposited them in a cave is very, very unlikely," Schiffman added.

"The reason is that most of the [the scrolls] fit a coherent theme and hang together.
Continue Reading
We really need a reform in modern Biblical scholarship. As our Pope has warned us (before he was pope) - the seperation of Biblical scholarship from faith has become a faith unto itself:
In the last hundred years, exegesis has had many great achievements, but it has brought forth great errors as well. These latter, moreover, have in some measure grown to the stature of academic dogmas. To criticize them at all would be taken by many as tantamount to sacrilege, especially if it were to be done by a non-exegete.

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