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Congratulations to Steve Goranson who is doing a great job of setting out
I heard the lecture and saw the slides on this maybe-YAXAD reading. I must
say that I found it pretty equivocal, but precisely for that reason would not
rule out YAXAD.
Let me also say that I think it is an unfortunate fact (but no less a fact)
that politics enters so much into the viewpoints on these readings. It is very
noticeable, for instance, that all those who are against the curvy or curly
Xet are from the same political stable; they are hostile to the Israeli
archaeologists; they are hostile to anyone or anything that emphasizes the
Jewishness of whoever wrote those texts. That's just a for-instance; I'm sure
one could make certain generalizations about the Israeli school also.
I don't personally care (politically speaking) whether they were Essenes or
some breakaway group of Sadducees, or whatever, so long as we are clear about
two points: (l) they were JEWS of some kind or other and (2) their writings
-- both biblical and non-biblical material -- betray an intimate acquaintance
with traditional JEWISH, HEBREW LANGUAGE religious texts, as well as with
ideas contained in the Pseudepigrapha (whose Hebrew versions were presumably
still floating around and available at that time). The combination of (l) and
(2) does not support the notion (much-cherished in some quarters) that the
Qumran people had progressed halfway from Judaism to Christianity or to
any other religion.
I think it is important that everyone on this list (indeed anyone interested
in the DSS) be sure to acquaint him/herself with the political stance of
scholars involved -- especially when we see examples of stubborn resistance to
a reading which has at least as much evidence going for it as against it. We
should always ask ourselves what is the political stance of this or that
person, and see whether this would need to be counterbalanced against their
ostensibly objective "scholarly" opinion.
In Jerusalem, I was neither convinced that it read L-Y-X-D nor was I
convinced that it did not. And so I remain sitting on the fence -- in this
as in most other puzzles about Qumran and its inhabitants.
Judith Romney Wegner