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Re: orion dates, method
Stephen Goranson writes:
> With some hesitance, may I mention that the views of Karl Popper on
>history methods remain a matter of debate?... History is not testable in
>way as chemical reactions....
>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.
I strongly disagree with Stephen in regards to methodology here. I
believe that models for the historical background of the scrolls can and must
be tested, just as any other scientific hypothesis. The test is extremely
simple. Are the historical propositions entailed in the model (1) confirmed
by conventional historical sources, (2) absent from historical sources, (3)
contradicted by historical sources.
Models supported by conventional history (e.g. Maccabees, Josephus) may
be considered historically grounded. Models which postulate all sorts of
historical events not present in the sources are conjectural or speculative.
And then there are those that are argued despite conflicting material from
Stephen appears to find "plausible reconstructions of Qumran history"
(i.e. conjectural models neither supported nor directly falsified by
conventional sources) an acceptable level of historical correlation to build
upon. (For instance, postulating Essene involvement in the events under
Alexander Jannaeus or suggesting Judah the Essene as Teacher of Righteousness
are examples of a conjectural constructs.) Perhaps Stephen has despaired of
finding a model directly present in historical sources. My approach has
always been to work more closely with conventional history, demanding direct
confirmation from the sources. When I first set out to study the scrolls, I
first made a comprehensive list of every detail in the scrolls of potential
historical testability. I then surveyed the entire second temple period for
a context which was consistent with these data. This rigorous approach led
directly to my development of the Hasidim hypothesis, which has many points
in contacts with Rowley's hypothesis of the 1950s (i.e. Onias III as the
Teacher of Righteousness, Menelaus as Wicked Priest). This hypothesis has
almost total direct support from conventional sources (e.g. Menelaus
conspiring against Onias III in exile, etc.). I can only suggest here that
the field's general satisfaction with lower standards of historical support
has allowed Hasmonean Era models to predominate over the last four decades.
-- Russell Gmirkin