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In: Material and Digital Reconstruction of Fragmentary Dead Sea Scrolls
In: Material and Digital Reconstruction of Fragmentary Dead Sea Scrolls
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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.

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
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In the 21st issue of Dead Sea Discoveries, Dennis Duke and Matthew Goff offered their collaboration as physicist and Dead Sea Scrolls scholar in order to study the lunar theory of the Aramaic Astronomical Book (aab). They use the astronomical model of lunar elongation—the angular distance between the moon and the sun on the observed heavenly sphere—to compute the times of the moon’s visibility and invisibility. They conclude that the times written on the Aramaic fragments are closer to reality than the times written in the Babylonian sources of the aab. This paper concludes that lunar elongation is not the best explanation of the astronomical data of the aab, and Duke and Goff’s computations should be refined according to some astronomical, cosmological, textual, and historical considerations.

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
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This paper finds a parallel to the division of each Babylonian zodiacal sign into 30 degrees in the Enochic cosmology. In particular a new explanation of the rare Aramaic word חרתיה in 4Q209 (4Q209 7iii 1–2, 6) from the Aramaic Astronomical Book is offered as describing heavenly openings on the horizon for the daily rising and setting of the sun. These openings were smaller parts of each one of the twelve gates compared previously by scholars to the zodiacal signs. It seems plausible that the description of the daily openings appeared four times in the account of every year at the end of each season. The addition of these four days can be seen as part of the author’s polemic against the Mesopotamian 360-day year. An implication of the repetition of the sentence in 4Q209 8 3–4 is that this scroll was probably longer than previously assumed and included a triennial cycle synchronizing lunar and solar years.

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
In: Material and Digital Reconstruction of Fragmentary Dead Sea Scrolls
Scholars working with ancient scrolls seek ways to extract maximum information from the multitude of fragments. Various methods were applied to that end on the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as on other ancient texts. The present book augments these methods to a full-scale protocol, while adapting them to a new computerized environment. Fundamental methodological issues are illuminated as part of the discussion, and the potential margin of error is provided on an empirical basis, as practiced in the sciences. The method is then exemplified with regard to the scroll 4Q418a, a copy of a wisdom composition from Qumran.
In: Material and Digital Reconstruction of Fragmentary Dead Sea Scrolls