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Re: orion Re: Date of Scrolls Deposit--55 BCE?

According to Greg Doudna:
> I would not be surprised if over fifty percent of the text copies at Qumran
> were produced within the ten year period prior to their deposit in the caves.
> I call it "the single generation hypothesis", in which I propose that most of 
> the scrolls copies come from a single generation which ended with the scrolls
> deposit in the caves. The diversity in the texts would be accounted for because 
> this was a collection.

>From this hypothesis you can generate a certain number of propositions about how
the world would have to be for this hypothesis to be true. As far as I can see,
and as Steve Goranson points out in his non-Popperian response, most of the
propositions you could generate that have evidence are falsified by the
available evidence, conventionally understood.Thus to support your hypothesis
you have to argue against a great deal of existing evidence. The best way to do
that, the most believable way, is to offer new evidence, or reassemble old
evidence in an exhaustive way. That would involve, for example, going through
all of the published DSS volumes and recording, tabulating, the paleographical
judgments of the assigned editor of each ms. That would be a wonderful service,
and if more than 50% of the ms were dated outside your Generation by independent
judgments of editors, your hypothesis would be falsified. Since that evidence
now exists, if you don't report it, you are only arguing, not using data. 

As in the following example:

> 2) On the 4QpPs(a) carbon date (5-111 CE two-sigma reported from Tucson) this is 
> indeed data, but is this the tail of a bell-curve, contamination, or a true date?  

No, this is not the the tail of a bell-curve. A two-sigma distance is always
measured as plus and minus a central point of highest probability. The
probability falls off symmetrically from the top of the bell curve. Therefore,
the highest probability date for 4QpPs(a), by carbon 14 dating, is 58 CE. That
is the halfway point between the two dates 5 and 111 CE. The probability that
the true date is between 48 BCE and 5 CE is about 11%. The probability that the
true date lies between 101 BCE and 48 BCE is about 5%.

> If the last, then a pre-BCE deposit date for the texts is falsified--and we're 
> all ahead because we know more.

Exactly so.

> I don't buy it, on present information, for two reasons. First in any battery
> of 14C dates the data points at the outer ends are suspicious in principle.
> They tell you where to redate and look further but the solid information is in 
> the overlaps and in the repeated confirmations. 

We don't believe the dating of 4QpPs(a) because it doesn't agree with earlier
dates given by carbon-14 dating on other mss. This argument won't wash. The
reason for *using* c-14 dating methods is to make distinctions between mss. You
can't then argue that the distinctions have to be disallowed because one such 
date is anomalous, but within the archeological occupation period!

> The second reason is I think the pesharim copies must be contemporary and pHab 
> 14C dated in the 1st BCE, inconsistent with the pPs 14C date.  I suspect the true 
> date of pPs is reflected in the 14C date for pHab, rather than in the 14C 
> date on itself.  Future data can and undoubtedly will decide this point.

Greg, it seems you are saying you don't like the date for pPs that carbon-14
gives, so the true date must be the date that carbon-14 gives for pHab. That
gives me the impression that you are evaluating the test as good if you 
like the results, and bad if you don't; and then if it's a bad test, the ms
dated by the bad test should have the same date as the one given by the good
test. I don't see how future data can help decide the point.

I don't see how this is a data-based analysis according to principles advocated
by Popper, unless there is something you are doing but not telling, such as the
tabulation of all the paleographical datings of mss.

Scientific treatment of data means that tests and pieces of data are uniformly
treated; it's not possible to use the same test, and have it valid in one 
instance and invalid in another. The humanist who thinks of each bit of data as
having its own individuality and differentiation from each other bit of data has
a hard time grasping this "idealization" of the data (or tests) according to
similar properties. If there are enough problems with the carbon-14 test that it
doesn't give results that are reliable, then you don't use it at all, in the
scientific method. Conversely, if you accept one test result as given, you
accept all results of the same sort of test, *as given*. 

It's also a more scientific method to stand at arm's length from determinations
such as the dating of mss, either by accepting whatever the results of the C-14
test may be, or by accepting whatever the results of the paleographical datings
by others may be. Of course those datings will vary, and some will seem
incorrect, according to individual scholarly judgment. But they don't get
individual critical appraisal; it's the critical thinking involved in using
these as data that matters in a scientific approach.

I thought you were doing a dissertation on pNahum. This sounds much more
elaborate. But then, dissertations do morph. Good luck with the project.


Sigrid Peterson  University of Pennsylvania  petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu