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Re: orion dates, method, invitation

          Stephen Goranson lodged a mild protest against my categorizing his
(and other Hasmonean Era) models as as conjectural.  However, I believe this
is an accurate evaluation based on the objective presence or absence of
historical support.  Let me give an illustration, namely the assault on the
exiled Teacher of Righteousness by the Wicked Priest.  Conventional
historical sources (2 Maccabees) report that Onias III went into exile at
Antioch in 175 BCE, and Menelaus conspired against him and ultimately was
responsible for his assassination there in 170 BCE.  Conversely, the common
though now largely discredited assertion that Jonathan or Simon assaulted the
(historically unidentified) Teacher of Righteousness at Qumran has no direct
historical support, nor does Stephen's suggestion that Jannaeus assaulted
Judah the Essene in Kohlit (or elsewhere).  Hence a pre-Maccabean context for
the TR and WP correlates with history and can legitimately claim to be
grounded in the historical sources, while both of the above Hasmonean Era
reconstructions are not present in the sources and are hence conjectural.
          To propose an analogy, how seriously would one consider an
interpretation of a scroll based on conjectured content of the lacunas rather
than the surviving text?  One could postulate an elaborate reconstruction of
lacunas and challenge other scholars to falsify the reconstruction, and of
course such guesswork would not be falsifiable short of discovery of another
copy of thetext.  But surely it is the existing text, not the lacunas, which
provide the proper starting point.
          In the historical arena, reconstructions of the background of the
scrolls can likewise be based on the historical text or on historical
lacunas.  The fundamental contrast between the Hasidim hypothesis and
Hasmonean Era models is that the former derives from the historical text,
while the later are to be found in the historical lacunas.  That is not to
say that the former is therefore true and the latter false, it is only to say
that one correlates with conventional history while the other requires
postulating all sorts of undocumented events.   If you are working in the
lacunas rather than the text, there are simply no historical controls to rein
in the scholarly imagination, and hence a historical discipline is
impossible.  Rather, constructing plausible but untestable scenarios out of
proposed gaps in the historical record bears an uncomfortable resemblance to
fiction writing (and requires in the reader an analogous "suspension of
disbelief"). If I may be so bold, I suspect this is essentially the same
point Fred Cryer is trying to make.

-- Russell Gmirkin