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Re: orion-list Pliny Qumran analysis (A. Baumgarten question)
This is the second part of my reply to the same post by Stephen Goranson,
and deals with methodological, rather than philological, issues.
According to Stephen Goranson:
> Dr. Sigrid,
????? One or two clients used to call me that ;-?
> I did not start my reading of Pliny, many years ago, with any
> assumption that Agrippa was his source. Early on, I had read
[. . .]
> possibilites; for example, Aristotle, because he lived too early. So I did
> not start with the a priori which you, for whatever reason, assign to me.
Well, all I have from which to judge your research is the article posted
on the Orion website, where you do indeed begin with a presupposition of
Agrippa as the source for Pliny's passage about the Essenes.
"Presupposition" is perhaps a better word than "assumption." Beginning
with this assertion, and *then* amassing evidence, and then concluding
that Agrippa was Pliny's source, doesn't communicate in a way that allows
readers to follow your thought processes and make them their own.
For good examples of the kind of writing that avoids presupposing the
conclusion(s), see almost anything by Jonathan Z. Smith. Writing in this
way is a skill I've been working to acquire, so I'm very conscious of it
when I read it in someone else's writing.
> If you would care to provide a reference to the text which you
> infer shows Pliny's readers did instant translation, I will look for it.
I have provided the reference, if you would just look it up--the last
volume of Rackham's Loeb edition of Pliny. It's missing from the
Departments Library, so I'm working on an 18-month-old memory of what it
says, and can't quote it verbatim.
> So far, your conjecture with Syriac information that "socia
> palmarum" means "society of the pious" has not appeared persuasive to me.
> (And do you mean instead of referring to palm trees or in addition to
> referring to palm trees?) If you have additional evidence or arguments, I
> will read those.
Still you don't get it. I am not trying to persuade you. In frustration I
want to say I don't *do* arguments. I don't care whether you are
persuaded, and if I were seriously trying to persuade I would use
different or additional materials.
The concern I have is for methodological rigor. That is,
1) Does one present *all the evidence, not simply the evidence
that is helpful to one's presupposition?
2) Does one weigh the evidence, considering the alternative
possibilities *ON PAPER*, within the paper?
Or, for example, having convinced oneself, perhaps by assiduous weighing
and questioning of the evidence, does one then only present one side of
the question without discussing reasons for discarding other
possibilities. When I read material that presents only one possibility--as
if it were presupposed or assumed--I feel cheated of the opportunity to
follow the thinking involved in arriving at the conclusion. I am likely to
spend time thinking up other ways it might have been.
For an example of other ways it might have been, the anomalous dating of
4QpPs(a) in the 2nd century might be because the fragment came from
material purchased by the Bedouin who had mixed in some material from
NaHal Hever 7/8, which *did include a fragment from a Psalms scroll, too
tiny to determine (as I recall) whether there might have been a pesher.
I still don't know that you are able to demonstrate that the passage is
in idiomatic Latin.
If not, the other possibilities need extensive consideration, rather than
dismissal without discussion.
> best wishes,
> Stephen Goranson
Sigrid Peterson UPenn firstname.lastname@example.org
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