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Re: To signoff, or not to signoff, this is the question

Thanks, Richard and Gidi

I've been pondering what I might say about the list situation on Orion. 
It is certainly beginning to resemble a usenet.news group, isn't it?

Culturally, I've observed in Israel that religion, politics and study 
seem to be inseperable, and are often compounded with gossip.  Also,  in 
Israel, everything is arguable.

All those elements seem to have crept into Orion. In addition, because it 
is a list with worldwide circulation, people with professorial habits of 
thought strive for accuracy. This gets personalized by those who think 
everything is arguable. 

Add to the mix some *VERY* sloppy practices by many, not just those in the
current discussion, in attributing material from earlier posts correctly,
and in signing more than their names, e-mail addresses, and institutional
affiliations at the end of a post, stir together, and there's a very spicy
and indigestible stew. 

Clashes of culture, religion, and politics are a part of the story of 
the Dead Sea Scrolls, so, I would think they must be ingredients in a list 
which deals honestly with the scrolls and questions raised in dealing 
with the scrolls.

The greater issue is whether the list will ever establish a norm that is 
recognizable as within the bounds of collegiality, befitting a community 
of scholars. With many members who have a lay interest in and knowledge 
of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but no understanding of academic conventions, it 
is really unclear at this point how the list will resolve this issue. 

I've decided that trying to correct every mistaken position and 
representation that comes up is an unproductive use of my time, and likely 
to be unappreciated by those who are corrected. At the same time, I 
squirm inwardly at the increase in the signal-to-noise ratio.

This could be understood as arrogant and elitist on my part. I don't 
really know of a democratic, participatory model to apply to the 
discussion of ancient manuscripts. Such a discussion requires an enormous 
level of specialized skills, as well as critical thinking skills that 
operate independently of one's political and religious affiliations.
Could a Judean from the first century BCE, who believes that Torah is a 
sacred gift from YHWH to Moses, who reads Hebrew and understands the 
literature, join the list, without skills in paleography and archaeology 
and critical thinking which *brackets religious and political ideology?

*A technical term in Religious Studies, meaning "to hold apart from 
consideration one's own belief, values, or ideology."

I actually favor broader list participation, and would like to see
contributions from responsible adults.This requires a little more
understanding from academics, although there's no responsibility to teach
people who either don't read or don't "get it". This requires a little
more willingness to contribute from non-academics, rather than argue or
worse still, argue the point of view of a single book. A religious or
political comment is very often *not* a contribution, whether made by an
an academic or non-academic list-member. Thatmight even be so for a member
of the Qumran community, were he or she to join the list.

Regarding list-directed comments and complaints, it is usually more ehlpful 
and efficacious to make "I" statements, that own one's own opinions and 
reactions, than to make "you" statements, that call names and point 
fingers. There's no difference between academics and non-academics on 
how this rule applies.

Sigrid Peterson   UPenn   petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu