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Re: orion Focus of DSS research (fwd)

I sent this out earlier today, but to the wrong address. Having seen some
of the replies in the past few hours, I feel even more strongly about the
points made below.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 12:58:31 +0200 (WET)
From: Albert Baumgarten <baumgaa@ashur.cc.biu.ac.il>
To: Orion Center <msorion@mscc.huji.ac.il>
Subject: Re: orion Focus of DSS research

The posting pleading for a reading of the scrolls on their own, with no
preconceptions moves me to make a number of comments. I do this not as
someone who would like to use the terminology of sectarianism for these
documents, nor as someone who wonders whether there was a normative
rabbinic Judaism in pre-70 days - two points raised by that posting on
which I have taken a position - but in the most general sense.
Is such a context free reading of the scrolls (or any other document)
possible? Can we just study them without some background against which to
put them, without making comparisons and contrasts? I would argue that
such a reading is likely impossible and if it were to prove possible it
would be useless. We must have some intellectual framework or else we are
in chaos.
On this point see the provocative and inventive article by J.Z. Smith in
the latest HTR (at least it was the latest fascicle I saw before going on
Al Baumgarten
Bar Ilan University