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Re: orion-list Kuhn and Popper
Dear Marcus Ward,
The idea that we should expect the Dead Sea Scrolls sect to have been
historically invisible, unmentioned outside the scrolls themselves, is a
common assertion which is in my opinion based on highly circular reasoning.
In fifty years, the field has failed to discover any meaningful correlation
between events and personalities in the scrolls and in historical records of
the Hasmonean Era (setting aside alleged correlations in the Nahum Pesher).
As a result, the scrolls sect has been widely perceived (and there are
variations of this) as a marginal splinter group, originally numbering as few
as fifty or less according to some constructs, which - by hindsight! - one
would not expect to be mentioned in historical sources.
Essentially, the current paradigm has adapted to its own inability to
uncover supporting evidence, in my opinion. This has led to a distorted view
of the scrolls in which paradigm is essentially imposed on the texts.
Sectarian texts which describe this invisible sect as conscripting armies
numbering in the thousands -- organized by 10s, 50s, 100s and 1000s --
holding national assemblies and fighting wars are thought to be
eschatological or to be idealizing. References to the high priest and prince
of the whole congregation as presiding over not only the sect but the nation
and over a temple under sectarian control are similarly discounted. And so
From my perspective, the failure to discover the history behind the
scrolls, and the subsequent abandonment of any expectation of correlation
between history and the effectively invisible scrolls sect, has led to a
catastrophic lowering of historical standards in the scrolls field. If one
need not correlate historical data with the scrolls, there is no possible
falsification of theories and there are no objective controls to constructing
a history of the sect. There is no possibility for the exercise of science
in the Popper sense of testing and excluding falsified theories. One may
make up events at will with no need to test one's ideas. Effectively, this
lowering of standards has meant the cancellation of any attempt at historical
discipline in the scrolls field, resulting in a study of the scrolls that is
essentially without historical context, in a vacuum. But within the current
paradigm this is seen as entirely methodologically acceptable, and indeed the
only possible approach to the scrolls.
To my mind this abandonment of historical discipline, an inevitable
consequence of an incorrect dating of the scrolls sect to the Hasmonean
period, is premature and unwarranted. There is abundant historical
correlation between the scrolls and the events of the Hellenistic Crisis and
Maccabean uprising. I'm currently on the final stages of articles showing
the Nahum Pesher was indeed written under Demetrius I, and that the serekh
literature largely reflects national institutions briefly established by the
Maccabees in 163 BCE. From my research, and in the paradigm I am developing,
the scrolls do visibly align in great detail with conventional historical
records, just not in the Hasmonean Era.
For private reply, e-mail to RGmyrken@aol.com
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