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Re: orion Hirschfeld implications
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Dear orion list,
The post quoted below makes some unfortunate assertions, in my opinion.
I skip the first sentence, as I don't know to whom Fred was
responding, as he did not quote or identify to whom.
The second sentence appears to suggest that some people in the
discussion suffer from the psychological malady of cognitive dissonance. If
so, that would, perhaps, be an ad hominem remark.
In any case, the early ASOR group and Sukenik and others introduced
the possibility of the Essene identification for reasons which have not
been shown "wrong" or "false," including the communal group described in
1QS, a group known as Essenes, and Pliny's text locating Essenes by the
Dead Sea. Their introduction was not "gratuitous." The idea was not
"trotted" out, despite the rhetoric of derision below; it was suggested as
a possibility by numerous scholars from differing backgrounds. The evidence
has increased since then.
Logically speaking, if someone in the 18th century got something
wrong, it does not necessarily follow that this "shows" that an idea in
1948--which, furthermore, was not Christian-centered--was wrong. At least
here I can agree with Fred to the extent that studies such as Siegfried
Wagner, Die Essener in der wissenschaftlichen Diskussion vom Ausgang des
18. bis zum Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts: Eine wissenschaftsgeschichtliche
Studie (BZAW 79; Berlin, 1960) make for interesting reading.
The next portion proposed a hypothetical case about what we would
have assumed. But Pliny did not describe "small sites." The plural was
added by Prof. Cryer, who previously wrote incorrectly in regard to the
relation of Hirschfeld's site vis-a-vis the location of Uzi Dahari's site.
As to what Prof. Cryer has written "all along," anyone wishing to check the
archives can see for themselves whether there is any tension between his
discussions of disinterested, scientific methodology and disinclination to
regard all evidence and proposals with the same standards of proof.
>Once again, emphatically no, at least not from the viewpoint of scientific
>theory. It is a curious feature of human psychology, but one which has been
>well studied recently, that people will continue to adhere to many of the
>elements of a given hypothesis that has obtained currency for some time
>even once it has been shown that the assumptions that originally gave rise
>to the hypothesis were wrong, based on false data, or the like.
>The gratuitous nature of the introduction of the "Essenes" into the
>discussion of the DSS is shown by the number of times they were trotted
>into the field in the 18th century to "settle" one or another problem
>connected with Christian origins long before we knew of the Scrolls.
>My point in connexion with the En Geddi find is simply that, if we had had
>no previous knowledge of the DSS, we´d simply have assumed that Pliny was
>talking about small sites such as the one Hirschfeld has discovered. I know
>of very few scholars who place any great faith in Pliny´s or Josephus´
>figures, or in those of any ancient source. This does not mean that I think
>Hirschfeld has got it right; only, that I think -as I have all along
>insisted- that the site (Qumran) should be interpreted on its own merits.