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orion dating; Essenes; a priori

There still appear to be more questionable assumptions in some
applications of dating techniques to Qumran mss. One recent indication
was the suggestion that Qumran mss are similar to newspapers, which, in
dating terms, they are not. Another possibly-present questionable
assumption is the expectation that Qumran ms dates must present a smooth
	There is no reason, I think, to assume that the dates of production of
writing surfaces  found at Qumran should necessarily produce a smooth
curve. Why exclude, e.g., the possibility that many texts represented
there happened to be produced in, say, 100 BCE, then few texts are
represented until another peak in, say 87 BCE, then a lag, then another
peak, etc. Maybe one big batch (still partly-extant), of whatever dates,
came from the "land of Damascus," or Jerusalem, at a given date. Maybe
Qumran production had its ups and downs. The survival of texts as well
as the rate of texts sent or taken away earlier may be uneven. Etc.
	In my opinion, it is not those who have *arrived* at the conclusion
that some Qumran texts and the site Kh. Qumran/Ein Feshkha are Essene
who have an a priori committment. Rather, it is the subset of those who
question the identification--which is fair game--but who also refuse to
*consider* the possibility who have an a priori committment.  (If anyone
exists who won't consider counterarguments as they are presented, such a
person may also be committed to an a priori; I myself have spent a lot
of time considering counterarguments.) Indications of such a
rejectionist stance can be seen, e.g., in denial of inkwells as scribal,
in denial of results of Pliny scholarship, in relegating Essenes
[especially those described by Pliny, Dio in Synesius, and Solinus] to
*any* *other* place, whether on vague "fringes" or at some vague and
*unlocated* site. Another indication comes in some implausible proposals
for the use of Kh. Qumran.
	In context, from my perspective, the AMS information has added, among
other things, confirming circumstantial evidence to what I already knew:
the Qumran ms collection is Essene. Historians who refuse to deal with
Essenes, in my view, limit the possibilities in their accounts of Qumran
Stephen Goranson    goranson@duke.edu