Reconstructing 4Q208–4Q209 as an Astronomical Artefact

It is probable that 4QZodiac Calendar may be a Jewish-Aramaic descendant of similar late Babylonian zodiacal calendar texts with which it bears close structural similarities.

See Also: Zodiac Calendars in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Their Reception (Brill Academic Pub, 2014).

By Helen R. Jacobus
Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies
University College London
July 2015

Click here for article.

Comments (2)

Your concluding words of this fascinating article seem to represent a significant departure from traditional notions current in Qumran scholarship: "The implication of this research is that it is likely that in Second Temple Judaism groups used different calendars for separate purposes. There is no evidence to suggest that Aramaic calendars were of less importance than the sacred 364-day calendars at Qumran."

In my part of Stacey, Doudna, and Avni, "Qumran Revisited," I cited Baumgarten, Stern, and you in challenging the notion that calendars in the Qumran texts are evidence that the authors of texts found at Qumran were programmatically opposed to high priests and temple in the era of the Hasmoneans. A recent review of my part of that book by Charlesworth cites the traditional consensus of the supposed temple/Qumran texts' calendar conflict as reason to discount most of the rest of my analysis. And yet not even in MMT with its explicit listing of "they say...but we say..." is there any charge made of use of a wrong calendar as one of the points of difference between the authors and their adversaries.

Your analysis seems to support that the diverse calendar schemes and speculative analyses among the Qumran finds are better seen as illustrative of a spectrum of ancient scholarly or learned discussion, without grounds for concluding anti-temple or anti-ruling priests' stances in practice, simply on the basis of the existence of the calendrical texts found at Qumran. Thank you for your work.

#1 - Gregory Doudna - 07/04/2015 - 08:26

Greg, thank you for your comments and for your interest and discussion in your work on the calendrical corpus. I agree with you that there is no historical or textual evidence for the over-arching consensus hypothesis that 'The Qumran Calendar' was the focus of an alleged schism between groups in Second Temple Judaism.
The Qumran calendrical collection is intriguingly rich and varied and in my view the consensus theory does not do justice to the complicated data in these manuscripts. Paradoxically, the consensus theory has tended to obscure our exploration of this fsacinating collection and the study of these manuscripts tends to be regarded as a marginal corner of Qumran scholarship and pedagogy.
Interested scholars have recently been producing and are still working on editions of some of these texts. We do not know their content exactly, and there is little agreement on how to interpret the material.
There is an an apparent disjunction between the claim that "consensus means what most leading scholars judge to be acceptable and most likely" (Charlesworth, review of 'Qumran Revisited' in SBL Review of Biblical Literature, June 1, 2015)and the fact that the calendrical texts are regarded as being of minority interest only and are still the subject of ongoing research. Thank you for your perceptions.

#2 - Helen R.Jacobus - 07/05/2015 - 11:32

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