Reconsidering the Date of the En-Gedi Leviticus Scroll (EGLev): Exploring the Limitations of the Comparative-Typological Paleographic Method

In: Textus
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  • 1 University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

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Abstract

Yardeni dated the charred En-Gedi Leviticus scroll (EGLev) to the second half of the first or early second century CE. Paleographic evidence is often ambiguous and can provide only an imprecise basis for dating EGLev. Nevertheless, a series of important typological developments evident in the hand of EGLev suggests a date somewhat later than the Dead Sea Scrolls of the first–second centuries, but clearly earlier than comparanda from the sixth–eighth centuries. The cumulative supporting evidence from the archeological context, bibliographic/voluminological details (wooden roller and metallic ink), format and layout (tall, narrow columns)—each individually indeterminative—also suggests dating EGLev to the period from the third–sixth centuries CE. I argue that EGLev should be dated to the third–fourth centuries CE, with only a small possibility that it could have been written in the second or fifth centuries, which is possibly supported by radiocarbon dating.