[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: orion-list Pliny Qumran analysis (A. Baumgarten question)

  Thanks for shifting us towards the methodological questions involved in
the attempted reconstructions. If I could be "skeptically modest" about a
particular point in Pliny, rather than absolutely certain that it forms
part of an argument, I would suggest the following:

  A) We don't know the language of Pliny's source for the passage on the
  B) Given the way Pliny worked, writing down notes as readers or 
     reader/translators read to him, the peculiarities of simultaneous
  translation may well have crept into Pliny's text, offering an 
  explanation of some of the peculiarities of the text.
  C) Going back to Greg Doudna's desiderata, we might be able to
     understand Pliny's "socia palmorum" as a rapid translation from the 
  Aramaic or Hebrew--or even Syriac. In the latter language, the Semitic
  root for open palm/palm tree/pray-er comes to have the meaning "pious
  ones." Easy enough for a reader/translator to come to the word and 
  supply the Latin for "open palm/palm tree." Now "Society of palm trees"
  makes a little bit of sense in the passage--after all, there are *now*
  palm trees very near Qumran. However, "society/association of pious
  ones" makes another kind of sense, given the discoveries at Qumran. 
  [The root, by the way, is in no way a cognate of "essene" in *any* of
  the variations of proposed etymologies. It *could* be a synonym of 
As you point out, Al, there are vastly different ways of reconstructing 
the partial information that remains to us, and we come up with different
pictures. If the hermeneutic circle is confined to Latin as the original
language, we bend the incongruities of the text into shapes that fit 
the assumption of Latin. However, if the hermeneutic circle is broad
enough to consider the way Pliny is described as having worked, we may
include more information and arrive at different understandings.

But then, of course, others can fault such an approach for incorporating 
irrelevant conjectures. 

Thanks for helping us talk about the nuts and bolts of the thinking we 
do about Dead Sea matters and how we know what we know.
All the best,
Sigrid Peterson   University of Pennsylvania   petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu

For private reply, e-mail to petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu (Sigrid Peterson)
To unsubscribe from Orion, e-mail to majordomo@panda.mscc.huji.ac.il with
the message: "unsubscribe Orion." For more information on the Orion Center
or for Orion archives, visit our web site http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il.