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Re: orion hermetically sealed caves

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I quite agree with Mr. Harding on the issue of only working with the
materials in our possession, but I urge--and have always done so--that we
not be quite so positive about our assumptions as past scholars were prone
to be. The bedouin sold some cloth, among other things, claimed to be from
one of the caves and which C-14 investigation later determined was
mediaeval. Naturally, it has been held that the bedouin were merely trying
to fob off materials found elsewhere as Qumran finds in order to get a
better price. But this is not a necessary conclusion. The letter of Timothy
is irrelevant in this connexion. The mere fact that the caves were found
*once* by bedouin means that they were no doubt found on other occasions as
well. Hence the mediaeval cloth could have been left behind by intruders
in, well, the middle ages. Scholars like to imagine that the disarray of
the texts in Cave 4 is the result of the hastry evacuation of the site in
the face of the advancing Romans. But this is merely sandwiching a confused
find picture into an historicising scenario put together in modern times.
It could equally well have been the case that the cave was the playground
of bedouin children whose parents frequently camped near Qumran, or that
Roman soldiers looking for Jewish treasure had a go at the documents in
frustration at not finding gold. We do not know; nor shall we ever. But let
us not build too much on cocksure assumptions.

Fred Cryer