Learning and Retirement

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Conjectures

Posted on May 20, 2010. Filed under: Learning and Retirement, Learning in Retirement, Retirement Learning, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

I am prompted to make these following comments resulting from my reading of the January 2010 issue of Smithsonian, “Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?” by Anthony Lawler. I will not treat the title question of who wrote the scrolls or where or when they originated…there is much information available on those questions and there is much contention on those questions. Rather, I shall make comment on the following questions:

• Do the scrolls have any significant linkage to the cult of the Essenes , an ascetic cult believed to have inhabited locations near where the scrolls were found ?
• How did the scrolls come to be deposited in caves on the western edge of the Dead Sea?

To the first question, I argue there is no evidence that the Essenes had a role to play in either the origin of the scrolls or of their deposit in the caves. The only nearby known ancient human habitat in the vicinity of the scroll caves is a hill-top excavation known as Qumran.

Some scholars believe the Qumran site contains the ruins of a perfume factory; others think it was the site of a wealthy estate or, even, a fort. From the Smithsonian: “Two millenia ago, there was a thriving commercial trade in the region; numerous settlements dotted the shore, while ships plied the sea. Springs and runoff from the steep hills were carefully

engineered to provide water for drinking and agriculture, and date palms and plants produced valuable resins used in perfume. And while the heavily salinated sea lacked fish, it provided salt and bitumen, the substance used in ancient times to seal boats and mortar bricks. Far from being a lonely and distant community of religious nonconformists, Qumran was a valuable piece of real estate—a day’s donkey ride to Jerusalem, a two-hour walk to Jericho and a stroll to docks and settlements along the sea.”

Thus, the argument that Qumran was an ascetic Essenes commune is subject to question. And when I consider the location of the caves and their accessibility…see below…I have additional reason to doubt a linkage of the Essenes to the caves and their scrolls.

To the second question, I argue that the scrolls were placed in the caves by agents of the Temple priesthood to safeguard them from the ravages of the Roman army.

From Wikipedia: “The first Jewish Revolt began in the year 66 initially because of Greek and Jewish religious tensions but grew with anti-taxation protests and attacks upon Roman citizens….By the summer of 70, the Romans had breached the walls of Jerusalem, ransacking and burning nearly the entire city. … The Temple was destroyed on 30 July 70.”

Thus, I conjecture that the priesthood, fearing for the preservation of the holy Torah and its antecedents (i.e., the historic scrolls dating back to 150 BCE), making every effort to safeguard these sacred objects from certain destruction, had them removed to a site far from Roman forces. It’s obvious they were placed with care… note the pottery containing one of the scrolls…with the thought of retrieval at some future time. I also find it relevant that one of the scrolls was scripted on copper and listed many gold and silver objects assumed taken from the Temple.

Had the priesthood not taken such measures, the fate of the holy scriptures might well have suffered the scene depicted here: Titus’ triumphal procession displaying the treasures (including the Menorah) of the Jewish Temple to the Roman people.

Finally, it is an historical irony that two millenia later, Torah scrolls were again removed from their sanctuaries; this time in advance of Nazi hordes. Someone once said, “The past is not dead; it’s here now and in the future”…some of the rescued scrolls now reside in temples in the United States. — Ellis Katz

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Posted on March 15, 2010. Filed under: Learning and Retirement, Learning in Retirement, Retirement Learning, SAGE Classes, Senior Study Discussion Groups |

We, the learning in retirement members of our enjoyable Sage Society, have many diverse interests that challenge our curriculum committee to regularly present a balanced agenda.

But it often puzzles me that so many choices offered relate to the past: past history, literature of the past, music and art of the past. Yes, many interesting topics are offered as well, but because so many our members are so intelligent and well versed in so much, I continually wonder why most of the classes offered are not about the important issue of today. This surely must be science–the sciences of everything could dominate the agenda!

Science can not only be difficult, it can also be depressing. It is, indeed, an inconvenient truth to get people to understand the earth science that is needed to help this planet begin to heal the slights of human overuse.

To vent my angst I offer this to my SAGE friends who are apt to give a rebuttal.

Earthʼs Anger

Call a God anything you want
But know this:
Gaia is good and mad

Sheʼs shaking our planet
Like crazy

Breathing on the pristine white
Top and bottom of us as the innocent
Polar mother loses sight of her cub

As cows she never made
Eat grass where the forests she made
Became furniture for
People sheʼs so sorry she made
Sheʼs got them
Knocking each other out

With words of advanced killing weaponry
Taken from the soil where her microcosms
Know enough to keep things even
Some will call it like Noahʼs ark
After the bombs and bashing
Finish thinning us out

Hope that she has no idea of
Daring an asteroid
To do the clean up
Because sheʼs so dam mad
At this age of stupid

–Bette Simons

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Tell Us about Your Classes

Posted on April 7, 2009. Filed under: Learning and Retirement, Learning in Retirement, Retirement Learning, SAGE Classes, Senior Learning, Senior Study Discussion Groups |

I am looking forward to our new classes starting. I am presenting next week all about P. T. Barnum in Famous Con Artists. I am very interested in hearing lots of news about the great presentations from the other classes. Please don’t forget to write a little note for us so we can all expand our knowledge.
You don’t have to write a lot to send it to Reuben so it can be posted. To add your comments, you just need to click on the word “Comments.” Don’t even worry about the spelling…we all forgive when our fingers hit the wrong keys. –Susi White

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Posted on March 17, 2009. Filed under: Learning and Retirement, Learning in Retirement, Older People Education, Retirement Learning, SAGE Activities, SAGE Classes, Senior Citizens, Senior Education, Senior Learning, Senior Organizations, Senior Study Discussion Groups |

For over 20 years the SAGE Society has stressed the fact that people are never too old to learn. Members in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are quite mentally alert and have stretched their minds by participating in study groups exploring all facets of literature, science, history, politics, culture, music, art, religion, and current events.
With this SAGE Society Blog we are embarking on a new learning adventure involving a new form of communication. In other words, we oldsters want to keep up with what’s new.  We don’t want to be left behind. Almost all of our 150 members are on the internet and have email addresses.

When SAGE took its initial formative steps to become a learning-in-retirement organization in 1987, there were no blogs. That didn’t happen until the 1990’s. Now we want to be part of the action by sharing our wealth of experience and information with each other and the world.

One form of communication we currently possess is our organization’s website at http://exlweb.csun.edu/sage that gives a comprehensive picture of SAGE and its activities.
The website features a pdf version of SAGE Observations, our quarterly publication printed and distributed to all the members and other learning-in-retirement  organizations.

In the coming weeks, months, and years we hope to fill our blog with
•    Comments by members about their experiences at SAGE
•    Reflections and views about any current issue
•    Reviews of books, movies, plays, and other events they would like to share with fellow members and the world
•    Pictures of SAGE members and their activities

We’re never too old to learn!

–Reuben Allen

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