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Re: orion recent discussion

Dear Marty Jaffee et al.,
It was my  impression from reading the post of our moderator (a job with
certain challenges, I imagine) that she was addressing posts other than
yours, posts which asked us, in effect, to discuss DSS as if they were
Rabbinic literature. Not your posts, which, among other things reasonably
distinguish between, e.g., concepts of halakha and oral torah, or at least
allow that these were not necessarily always taken as practically
synonymous, as some readers apparently take as a given.
	I, for one, hope you do not give up on orion. You surely need not
join the realm of our spammer who resolutely misrepresents the knowledge of
J. Magness on Herodian pottery and archaeology, of Y. Meshorer on coins
(including Herodian distribution; D. Ariel's survey; Tyrian coins used as
temple dues, collected but withheld by Essenes, etc.), etc.
	I speak (write) as one who has made mistakes of fact on orion and
who has at times chosen my words poorly. An example of the former: I should
have written "*over* 4000" and "*over* 6000" for the estimates of Essenes
and Pharisees, respectively.
	Perhaps you are implying that we should distinguish better between
degrees of certainty. Here I'll try two contrasting examples. Lena Cansdale
(her book, p. 26) essentially argues that if Pliny wanted to say En Gedi
was south of the Essene settlement (which Dio called "an entire and blessed
city"), Pliny would have said (in Latin) south. But this argument ignores
the response that if he wanted to say that Essenes were west of En Gedi, he
could have said (in Latin) west.  For this and other reasons, her argument
fails, certainly.
	On the other hand, in writing on Magi, I said maybe Herod ordered
the destruction of Qumran, a site which archaeologists current with the
data know was not long abandoned and was reused by the same community. But
this is a possibility--inadequately discussed so far IMO--but only a
possibility. Another option is that the site was destroyed a year or two or
three later, after the death of Herod, in that upheaval. Or, third, some
unknown cause may be involved.
	There is so much new data available. It is a time of great
opportunity for serious historians. I hope you will continue to
participate, and that some more of the currently silent subscribers,
several of whom resemble you in being considerably learned, will
participate, even if that means risking some exposure to the occasional
inanity and rudeness--and unintentional misunderstanding--which our
moderator tries to minimize.
Best wishes,
Stephen Goranson   goranson@duke.edu