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Re: Swallowing castor oil, Re: orion Re: Date of Scrolls Deposit--55 BCE?

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Asia, you have paid so little attention to the radiocarbon discussion that
it is clear your motives are not scholarly, but simply petty. If you
continue, I shall complain to the moderator. For your information:

1) there has never been any question of castor oil making a C-14/AMS test
come up *earlier* than the true date, as you write repeatedly. Castor oil
comes from the castor oil plant, and hence contains, as I wrote some time
ago, *modern* carbon. Hence it will contaminate a sample with carbon
showing the C-14 contents of a later age than that of the sample itself. 

2) neither Greg Doudna nor I has ever maintained that the psalms pesher
reads *earlier* than it probably should be. Rather, we have repeatedly
pointed out that it is one of five "outliers" which show later dates than
the bulk of the Scrolls that have been dated by radiocarbon analysis. That
makes its date anomalous: it might reflect a true date, but it also might
not. Its radiocarbon date is also later than that of the other pesharim,
and since all of these exist in single copies and have similar scribal
characteristics, this makes its late date suspicious also on
non-radiocarbon grounds. It is axiomatic in scientific theory that
anomalies require explanation, and the date of the Ps pesher is doubly
anomalous; so it is hardly a "Popperian just-so story" that its position
among the Scrolls requires study with a view to determining the cause of
the anomaly.

3) John Allegro, John Strugnell, and Frank Cross (the last many times, most
recently in his read-but-not-personally-delivered talk given in Qumran on
the evening of July 25) have all explained that they regularly cleaned the
Scrolls with castor oil in order both to get the dust off and to bring up
some readings. They could not at the time have known that this would
interfere with future C-14 studies, as, in their day, radiocarbon analysis
required such enormous quantities of material that direct testing of the
manuscripts themselves was out of the question; hence they had no reason to
be cautious in this respect.

I apologise to other members of this list for having to repeat the
substance of many previous posts. These are simple matters of fact that
have apparently not sunk in, in some quarters.