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RE: orion-list A Theory of Qumran Theories...

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Joe Zias [mailto:zias@inter.net.il]
> Sent: Friday, January 07, 2000 3:55 PM
> To: orion@mscc.huji.ac.il
> Subject: Re: orion-list A Theory of Qumran Theories...
> Appropos the comments of Douda and Brooks - Well said, M. Broshi
> recently
> published a short popular article (1998) in which he writes 
> that one of
> the problems of DSS scholars is that "despite 12,000 scholarly
> publications, no one will ever admit that they have been wrong."  even
> when C-14 dates done by independent labs show otherwise. Perhaps we
> should all follow the dictum of O. Wilde (?) that 'absolute 
> truth lasts
> but 20 years"  If he didn't say it, I'm sure he would take credit for
> it.

Another dictum, this one from Ludwig Wittgenstein:  "whereof one cannot
speak, thereof one must be silent."  While other philosophers of the Vienna
school would have understood this one in light of positivism (empirical
observations and logical connections are the only way to truth),
Wittgenstein apparently had a more mystical sense in mind:  one gets at a
more ultimate truth by indirection through discovering what one can or
cannot in fact say about the world of sense experience.  I think George is
unfair in suggesting that scholars are not proposing great theoretical
reconstructions of the world behind the scrolls because they are concerned
about their careers.  Thanks to the publication of a mass of material that
scholars are still in the process of sifting and assessing, we are in the
situation of discovering what we can't say about the scrolls, or can no
longer say, in order to find a basic minimum of things we can say that will
serve as a starting point for new reconstructions (George's seminary friend
is not just being perverse but is reflecting an approach to faith that
begins with the minimum rather than the maximum that one can believe).  I
suspect that it will be a decade or two before we have reached that point.
What George is proposing is the writing of historical fiction -- a quite
genuine enterprise, which would produce a good novel, but not what most
scholars are about in determining what can really be said about the scrolls.
The dust from 1991 is still settling.

Sorry to wax philosophical, and I hope that Joe's post and mine don't set
off a series of dictums and philosophizing, but what George is proposing
really doesn't take into account where we are at the present.  For the
present, we will make progress through the kinds of initiatives that Ian and
Greg have put forth:  is a deposit date of 63 BCE a reasonable hypothesis?

David Suter
Saint Martin's College
For private reply, e-mail to "Suter, David" <dsuter@stmartin.edu>
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