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orion dates, deposit, method, R. Altman
Dear orion readers,
On the suggestion of one-generation production of the scrolls: The
C14 dating does not cluster in a one-generation span nor do 50% fit into a
ten-year span. Further, isn't it the function of C14 measurements to date
individual samples, rather than groups? Presuming ahead of time what (of
these estimates) will be considered an anomaly may limit its usefulness.
Nor does the paleography support this proposal, apparently. And the number
of hands is problematic for it. The archaeology indicates longer
continuity. The history of the development of texts including S and D
indicates a longer time span.
Redefining a fortress into a supposed state-controlled site and
assuming boats does not appear useful. The proposal of texts from Jerusalem
does not explain why texts critical of the temple administration are
included. It does not explain why concealment at such a distance--adding
unsafe transport--would be attempted. It does not explain--or attempts to
explain away--the connections of the caves and khirbeh. Further, if Qumran
were ever considered a stronghold, why wouldn't valuables be kept inside?
And if one intended to defend Jerusalem, valuables would likely be kept
There is not a c55 BCE destruction at Qumran and the continuity and
usage of many loci is long, allowing some growth, changes, and repair. The
c68 CE destruction is not doubted. The issue of non-retreival (though there
may have been *some*) is not the same. The Roman soldiers who briefly
stayed there after 68 or 70 CE or so would understandably have had little
interest in the cave documents. But Jews (Essenes) living at Qumran from
c55 BCE to c68CE would have a different attitude (in the proposal). And
"Sadducees" post 63 or 55 BCE would have had interest in retrieval, had
these been their texts. The texts, also, match neither what we know of
Sadducees nor Pharisees.
With some hesitance, may I mention that the views of Karl Popper on
history methods remain a matter of debate? While we can all, probably,
think of useful examples of falsifiability, his method may have limitations
(e.g., atomism). If it was a development out of or a departure from logical
positivism, how useful is that for history? History is not testable in the
same way as chemical reactions. Could his opposition to "historicism"
exemplified by Marx's proposed predictive aspects of history have had
impetus from other than pure epistemology? If he prefered one materialism
over another, should orion be limited by that? Has one ever encountered use
of methodology in service of a minimalism applied unevenly to aspects of
history unwelcomed for other than scientific reasons? Thinking of theory is
of some use, but, if we had a perfect theory, we would not have historical
questions. Much of our information is mediated and of various levels of
probability, but that does not make such information worthless. Plausible
reconstructions of Qumran history will not selectively exclude evidence.
A note on Rochelle Altman's bi- tri- and quatralinear
illustrations. In my e-mail these pictures were incomprehensible, because
they arrived rearranged. But they appear in correct configuration in the
orion archives (via ftp://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il), which I mention in case
anyone else had the same experience and would like to see these correctly.
Stephen Goranson firstname.lastname@example.org