Sunday, July 31, 2005

More on Absence of Evidence vs. Evidence of Absence

PaleoJudaica on the existence of a pre-Herodian Temple:
As for their being "no archaeological evidence at all for any earlier temple [than Herod's] on the site," as phrased, that's more or less correct. (I could dispute that point, but let it lie for now.) Herod's expansion of the Temple Platform seems to have obliterated the earlier architecture. Of course, the only way to find out if some of that earlier architecture survives is to excavate the site. Obviously that is politically impossible. I have expressed the hope that future technologies may someday allow us to do nonintrusive scans of the site.

But in any case, what is the implication you are drawing from this (current) lack of archaeological evidence? Are you seriously suggesting that there wasn't a Jewish Temple on the site before Herod built it? That would mean there must have been a massive conspiracy by Josephus, the (pre-Herodian!) Dead Sea Scrolls, etc., to convince someone or other that there was a pre-Herodian Temple on the (previously empty?) site. I can't parse this at all, so I'll just have to ask you what you do mean.
Much more here.

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