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Radiocarbon analyzes confirm in principle that the scroll dates back to before the Common Era and agree very well with the dating proposed by Cross. It was subjected to the radiocarbon test in 1994 and the result gave a dating from 104-43 BC. with probability 1s, corresponding to 68%, a dating from 120-5 BC. with probability 2s, corresponding to 95%. It is therefore possible to argue with well-founded reasons that the events narrated in code in Habakkuk’s pesher have nothing to do with the historical events of early Christianity and are most likely connected to much older events in Jewish history, perhaps dating back to the middle of I century BC or even earlier: this is in fact the opinion of the vast majority of Qumranists, despite the theories proposed by R. Eisenman, also taken up in the book by M. Baigent and R. Leigh (see bibliography), B. Thiering and other. The commentary to Habakkuk, as observed by Eisenman, relates a particular episode: the victorious Kittim troops make sacrificial offerings to their ensigns, a practice that seems to be clearly taken up by the Roman army. Josephus in fact reports that during the capture of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD. “the Romans, now that the rebels had descended into the city and the sanctuary was burning with all the surrounding buildings, carried their flags in the area in front of the temple and, placing them in front of the eastern gate, celebrated a sacrifice in their honor and greeted Titus emerator among huge cheers of jubilation “(Guerra Giud., 6.1). Such a practice, if referred to the Romans, makes sense only after the creation of the empire in 28 BC. when the emperor is considered a deity: during the republic these sacrifices to the flags would have made no sense. Therefore, according to Eisenman, the commentary would certainly have been written after 28 BC. if not with explicit reference to what happened in 70 AD and the Kittim would be the Romans. Radio-carbon dating seems to rule out that the manuscript was composed after 70 AD, although a possible composition after 28 BC is not excluded, so it is difficult to think that it refers to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. It is also possible that other armies also had a custom similar to those of the Romans and made sacrifices in honor of their banners, bearing some important effigy. An interesting detail to bear in mind is that the birth of these alternative theories to the classical interpretations of de Vaux, which all require a much lower dating of the scrolls, is prior to the radio dating of 1991. Accepting the dating proposed by the radiocarbon test results it is very difficult to link the manuscript to Christianity, especially if we consider that it is not an original composition but presumably a copy of an older document.
¨ The text of the commentary on Abacuc (1QpHab) can be studied in Florentino Garcia Martinez, Texts of Qumran, Italian translation from the original texts with notes by Corrado Martone, PAIDEIA ed., Brescia, 1996, pp. 328-340. An English translation by F. Miller is available online, the original manuscript in Paleo Hebrew is also reproduced on his website, see: http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/habdir.htm
¨ The translated text of the Damascus Document, both in the version found in the genizah of the Cairo synagogue and in the form of the Qumran fragments, can be studied eg. in Florentino Garcia Martinez, Texts by Qumran, Italian translation from the original texts with notes by Corrado Martone, PAIDEIA ed., Brescia, 1996, pp. 114-164.
Fragment 4Q208 is a portion of the astronomical section of the first book of Enoch, an apocryphal and pseudo-epigraph of the Old Testament. In cave 4Q, seven Aramaic fragments of this book have been found, the contents of which in many cases are similar to those of Christianity (a direct quote from the first book of Enoch appears in the letter of Jude).