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Re: orion Response to F. Cryer
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haven´t much time this morning, so I´ll just respond to your first point,
and a bit to your overall strategy. The palaeographic dates of the Scrolls
are *all* relative dates, based on presumed evolutionary scenarios. The
archaeological dates are based on stratigraphy and the presumed external
history of Syria-Palestine to provide context. The only "absolute dating"
criteria in our possession are those provided by the 14-C/AMS tests that
have been performed up to the present. They are "absolute" in the simple
sense that dead animals do not take up new carbon, and the decay of 14-C is
a known and thoroughly calculable quantity. Hence it is at least in
principle possible to determine with certainty when the animals died whose
skins provided the parchments in our possession. So far, there are about 18
readings in the first half of the first century BCE. There are about 5
outliers in the first CE. Whether those outliers reflect real information
or not, or whether they are artefacts of our inability to clean the
parchments adequately, is testable. In fact, I have designed a test here in
Copenhagen together with Greg Doudna and the head of the National Museum
of Copenhagen to do just that. The test is also constructed so as to test
the validity of the palaeography, by testing the alleged oldest scripts
against the alleged youngest ones. So we shall know with considerable
certainty in about a year´s time. At present, I´ll go with the pre-BCE
results; there are more of them, and they are more consistent. It is also
easier in principle to understand occasional outliers of later date as the
result of contamination from modern carbon, as that would invariably
produce a few late dates, whereas nothing will produce *earlier* dates
(i.e., no conceivable scenario provides for the contamination of the texts
with ancient carbon dating from before their being written).
As far as your overall strategy is concerned, please do stop flogging the
old dead horse of Pliny. He is not a primary source to Judaean history, by
your own admission. Whether Agrippa actually was his source is the sort of
argument we scholars enjoy, but you would also have to establish that
Agrippa himself was a primary source, and that is by no means certain.
Urging what is at best a tertiary source against the documents themselves
and the archaeological situation is an odd understanding of historical
method. Do read the late Moses Finley´s *Evidence and Models*, and give it
a thought. As to the relevance of Josephus and Philo to Khirbet Qumran, I´m
all ears, as they never mention the site.
Having said this, it is entirely possible that a group of "Essenes",
whatever they may have been, once lived in the structures in question at
some point in the first century BCE. Whether they had anything whatever to
do with the documents, which may well have been in place long before,
remains incapable of demonstration. Such a group would hardly have been so
diverse as the picture I painted in my previous post, and that diversity
and complexity is precisely what makes the various "Essene" theories
difficult to understand. Sheer numbers, whether 4,000 or 10,000, do not
make for complexity; ask the ant, and she will tell you. "Movements"
standardise, and the DSS are not standardised. And, yes, I have looked at
the ca. 850-odd documents, and no, there are no autographs among them, not
even among the so-called "sectarian" documents, which is where, on your
hypothesis, one would *have* to find some.
I suggest we discontinue the topic for the present, as this discussion
seems to be leading nowhere.
Frederick H. Cryer
Assoc. Prof. for Research
Univ. of Copenhagen
Faculty of Theology
1150 København K.
fax: (045) 35 32 36 52