Astronomy of Qumran: Further Considerations

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
Author: Eshbal Ratzon1
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This paper is part of an ongoing debate regarding the theory raised a year ago by Dennis Duke and Matthew Goff in an attempt to re-explain the numerical values found in the Aramaic Astronomical Book (aab). According to their proposal, the composers of the aab or their sources computed the times of lunar visibility and invisibility using the phenomenon of lunar elongation. In this article, I accept Duke and Goff’s argument that their theory does not contradict the data preserved in the fragments of the scrolls of the aab. However, I demonstrate that their theory is unnecessarily complicated and that their proposal both ignores knowledge of physics available to the authors of the aab while making use of knowledge that neither the authors of the aab nor their sources obtained. Therefore, I suggest accepting Duke and Goff’s theory as a modern explanation of the astronomy of the aab, but not as a historical reconstruction.

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