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As the discussion seems to be drawing to a close I think I shoudl end my
vow of silence, before people forget the points to which I am

I. To Joe Zias
A. I have no objection either to your re-sexing supposed females, or to
re-dating of remains to more recent times. Whether you are right or not
will be determined by those with much more specialized knowledge than
myself. That was why I deliberately based my note on accepting your
arguments, although I indicated that they were controversial, and
remarked that my conclusion would be even more forceful if one agreed
with your critics.
B. The main point of my introducing Fleck was to refute the notion that
there is such a thing as culture free objective science. I don't know
where or how you picked up the idea that Qumran was Essene. As the
reigning position, it is so widespread among intelligent and educated
adults in Israel that virtually every member of every audience I address
seems surprised when I mention that I have my doubts about this
conclusion. Whatever the source, I fear this identification shaped your
perception and presentation. Aside from the comments on T9, all in
passing which I noted, one will not find a straightforward sentence in
your article stating that T9 was female. Mighty convenient for someone
trying to argue that the archeological data supports Pliny. Maybe the 1-
under females in the chart was a typo, but I didn't notice any other
typos in your article, certainly not others of the same potential
significance to the conclusion. 

II. To Stephen. Goranson
A. I confess you are right: the interpretation "downstream" antedates
Qumran. I should reformulate that point. I wrote that understanding
infra as downstream "would probably never have been suggested." I should
have written "would probaby never have received such prominence." In
other words, I do not withdraw the claim that "downstream" is unusual
for Latin infra and that the insistence on this unusual meaning has
something to do with wanting Pliny to identify Qumran as Essene. .
For one example see Stern's discussion in GLAJJ, 480-481. Stern prefers
"downstream," but the nature and length of his argument (by my estimate,
Stern devotes almost 40 lines to this one issue; the whole passage from
Pliny was only 15 lines long) indicate how far from obvious that
translation is, and the extent to which it is helped by the desire to
identify Qumran as the Essene city. Stern continues: "Pliny is so
inaccurate in his description of Palestine that he could easily confuse
the exact location of the Essene habitations in their relation to the
Dead Sea." If "downstream" were so obvious or certain for infra why the
need for these further explanations and elaborations of Pliny's
B. Please remember, however, that I counted three points of special
pleading. You have only cast doubt (marginal doubt, I would argue) on
one. Pliny's evidence remains a mess, at best (Stern, above). Where we
can check him we need to reinterpret him. Then, on the point where the
most detailed and precise information would be necessary - the identity
of a small Jewish group and its place in the constellation of other such
Jewish movements - we are asked to believe him without hesitation. I
refuse. This is the heart of my communication. I agree that Pliny's
account of the Essene city refers to Qumran, but it is so full of
misinformation and in need of special pleading to sustain that
conclusion that I cannot follow Pliny in concluding that Qumran was
C. I have a weakness for catchy titles. As a previous note indicated, I
sometimes resist, in part because ours is a conservative business. I
don't want my arguments to be dismissed on account of a cute title.
Perhaps I should learn my lesson. In any case, on that score my hat is
of to Joe Zias for "confusion laid to rest?"

Al Baumgarten

For private reply, e-mail to "Albert I. Baumgarten" <baumgaa@mail.biu.ac.il>
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