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Thread: notes on the Kevin McGrane paper - review of Bill Cooper

  1. Default is the ad hominem component relevant to the Sinaiticus authenticity question?

    In the Preface:

    a particularly repugnant aspect of the thesis is its reliance upon the false testimony of a notorious fraudster and perjurer who gloried in his role of viciously persecuting the Protestant Reformed cause, and shrank not from attempting to destroy the lives and reputations of the saints
    And I would call this the "drama queen" argument.

    To a large extent, this is simply a diversion red herring.

    The participation of Simonides in the creation of a replica or forgery text in Mt. Athos c. 1839-1840 stands or falls on the evidences, not e.g. how Simonides behaved years later in the Jonas King affair. In fact, being a part of creating a terrible manuscript that has fooled millions is no laurel.

    In fact, in a sense you can consider chicanery in manuscripts from Simonides as a possible qualification, or credential, as pointed out by Charles Van der Pool.

    Lastly I find it somewhat comical that the charge against a forger was that he was convicted of forgery...that would seem to be more of a proof of his “credentials” ..

    The Apostolic Bible Polyglot Translator’s Note

  2. Default Tischendorf's 1844 theft of 43 leaves and the Uspensky material

    Tischendorf's 1844 theft of 43 leaves and the Uspensky material - p. 35-41

    Kevin McGrane agrees with the SART team on the most basic issue - Tischendorf stole the 43 leaves, the five quires plus 3 contiguous leaves. (our discussions and Kevin indicates this will be in the 3 Constantines book.) And Tischendorf lied about what happened in 1844, as Kevin writes here:

    His much later account of his discovery, which appeared in 1860, is a tale that appears to have developed somewhat apart from the truth, and continued to be embellished in the telling throughout the following decade.
    PBF has a lot of the info here:

    1844 saved from burning myth - "ich bin in den Besitzgelangt von"

    And if I add extra details from Kevin McGrane, the source will be given. (An area where Kevin McGrane was often lax, such as our finding and having translated into English the Uspensky 1856 book material. Since Kevin took an “attack” approach to the SART team research, he studiously avoided acknowledging any places where he works with our writings, web page, or David’s videos.)


    Overall, we had Uspensky material from his 1856 and 1857 books translated, Kevin adds more from his later 4-volume autobiography and an article or book he did on the manuscripts at the Sinai monastery. Footnote 62 on p. 40 is quite helpful.

    82 A great deal was never published, but is extant. For example, see Uspensky's 132pp manuscript

    Замечательные рукописи в библиотеках Синайского монастыря и а архиепископских кельях там

    ['Wonderful manuscripts in the libraries of the Sinai monastery and in the Archbishop's cells there'] - Google

    in the Uspensky collection at the Imperial Academy of Sciences, Ns 136.1. Pages 3-22 are dedicated to Codex Sinaiticus. That Uspensky took vast notes of readings and collations on his 1845 and 1850 visits is also evident from his published detailed treatment of it setting out the grounds for its being a production of heterodoxy, in his

    Мнение о синайской рукописи, содержащей в себе Ветхий Завет неполный, и весь Новый Завет с посланием святого апостола Варнавы и книгой Ермы
    . (St Petersburg, 1862)

    The opinion about the Sinai manuscript containing the Old Testament in itself is incomplete, and the whole New Testament with the message of the holy Apostle Barnabas and the book of Hermas - Google with Hermas tweak

    which was published before Tischendorf's facsimile edition was available for consultation.

    One might wonder why Uspensky's account of his 1845 visit, which has quite a few pages on Codex Sinaiticus, took a decade to get to press. One of the reasons was his onerous workload and travelling. Another was the heavy hand of the censor. The original draft of Uspensky's account of his 1845 visit and examination of Codex Sinaiticus is extant, and reveals plenty of red ink of the censor on it. (Donated to the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Uspensky's will). It was not passed by the censor publication until 1856, as also was the account of his 1850 visit. - p. 40

    The material here will be integrated with:

    Porfiry Uspensky views Sinaiticus in 1845 and 1850

    Tischendorf 1862 response to Uspensky on Euthalian issue


    Review of salient material:

    There is the 1862 Uspensky doctrinal work, criticizing Sinaiticus, referenced above, footnote 82:
    Мнение о синайской рукописи,

    Which was one of the books that received the hysterical, unbalanced Tischendorf responses of 1863.

    (There is I believe also an 1865 response from Uspensky to Tischendorf on the doctrinal issues.)

    And there is the St. Catherine's catalogue mentioned in footnote #78.

    And note the reference to the original draft of the book(s) below with a censor's red ink.
    The two major, early Uspensky books:

    The two 1856s (or 1856 and 1857) books in Kevin's footnote 74 are:

    The First Trip to Mt Sinai Monastery in 1845. Saint Petersburg, 1856.
    Первое путешествие в Синайский Монастыŕ в 1845 году (1856)
    Архимандрита Порфиря Успенскаго (text in white parchment thread)

    The Second Visit of Archimandrite Porfiry Uspensky to the Mt Sinai Monastery in 1850. Saint Petersburg, 1856.
    Vtoroe putešestvie Archimandrita Porfirija Uspenskago v Sinajskij Monastyrʹ v 1850 godu|
    Konstantin A. Uspenskij

    Same book, different font:
    Второе путешествіе архимандрита Порфирія Успенскаго в Синайскій монастырь в 1850 году (NOVIEW)

    Also the 4-volume autobiography:

    Kniga bytiia moego: Dnevniki I avtobiografickeskiia zapiski - or
    Книга бытия моего. Дневники и автобиографические записки епископа Порфирия Успенского.
    (and perhaps additional spots.

    Analyzing Uspensky in more depth will take some time, and I will plan to come back to this section after the second pass of reading and notes is completed. Also the information above is a bit limited, and hopefully more will be published in McGrane's forthcoming monograph. One key question, did Uspensky see the manuscript after 1850? And if so, under what circumstances. My understanding is that by that time, while a critic of Sinaiticus doctrinally, he was back to being friendly with Tischendorf. (They both rightly today should be understood as rather prodigious manuscript theives, so that could provide some honour between the two.)


    On p. 41 we have the first note in the book that actually might relate to SART team material.

    Uspensky is an important witness against Dr Cooper's thesis, since he made detailed examination in 1845 of exactly what Tischendorf removed in 1859. Moreover, Uspensky wrote a great deal about Codex Sinaiticus in the 1860s after its arrival in St Petersburg 83 but there is no hint that the Codex had undergone any significant change over the 20 years that he had been familiar with it.

    83 Uspensky arrived in St Petersburg in 1861 and was there for some years.
    Note that while Kevin talks about the notes made by Uspensky about the manuscript, he also talks about the inaccessibility of the manuscript in Russia after it arrived in 1859, locked up in the Tsar's vault.

    So it is unclear whether Uspensky saw the manuscript in Russia. And if he would have cared about the staining and colour issues if he did see the manuscript. (Often, he cooperated with Tischendorf.)

    So far, there is no specific error by anybody (not even Bill Cooper) in this area, just some differences in analysis.
    Last edited by Steven Avery; Today at 01:10 PM.

  3. Default Tischendorf's 1859 visit to St Catherine's monastery

    Tischendorf's 1859 visit to St Catherine's monastery - p. 41-45

    p. 41 has a few interesting points, however, first, watch the footnote

    83 Uspensky arrived in St Petersburg in 1861 and was there for some years.
    By this time, the Sinaiticus ms. was said to be locked in the Tsar's vault. So it may well be that Uspensky never saw the ms. after 1850. Which would make the oddball colouring and staining and streaking quite invisible to Uspensky.


    After that we have some unfair criticism of Cooper's statement, which is built upon the supposed ignorance of Tischendorf himself (and we should note that the more germane information supplied by Kevin took some digging out on his end) :

    Tischendorf claimed that in 1859 he was sent to Sinai to search for such a manuscript by Tsar Nicholas I. How did it become known to the Tsar, and through whom, that such a manuscript was now available in such a remote and inaccessible part of the world? - p. 35

    Quite how the Tsar became blessed with this knowledge we do not know...We may wonder at the strange importance that Codex Sinaiticus had taken on for a Russian Tsar who'd never even seen or heard of it before. And who, I wonder, told him of its existence? p. 77
    It is a fair question, especially if you accept the Tischendorf claim that it was all a red cloth surprise.

    In response, Kevin McGrane first gives Tregelles in 1860 and the Clerical Journal of 1862 and Scrivener in 1864 discussing the Uspensky publication, after Sinaiticus had become a cause célèbre in 1859. Since Kevin is so attune to potential anachronisms, he should apply the concern to his 1860-1864 references here.

    If Tischendorf did not know about the Uspensky publication en route to Sinai, and did not know quite full details about the manuscript, including the New Testament and Hermas and Barnabas, then it is a fair question to ask about the Tsar's knowledge.

    Kevin McGrane then goes into a Tischendorf memorandum to the Russian ambassador in Dresden to go to Avraam Norov, the Russian Minister of Education. And then Kevin goes into contact with Uspensky on the Russian side, which is more germane. Yet even there, we have the curiousity of Uspensky referring to trying to acquire for reproduction:

    "(for example, the fifth century Sinaitic text of the Septuagint)" p. 44
    McGrane claims:

    However, the Russian authorities had rather more in mind than temporarily borrowing the Codex for academic use. The Russians ... agreed to engage the Saxon foreigner to do the deed of extracting the Codex for Russia, whilst keeping him entirely in the dark about the Russian government's knowledge and intentions so as not to take the wind out of his sails.
    However, Kevin gives no documents saying that they would countenance theft, or phony borrowing, or even that they would be adverse to a temporary receiving of a major manuscript. In fact, he offers a quote from Uspensky, given by Sevcenko 1964 (online) citing Bezobrazov 1910, that directly contradicts what Kevin McGrane is saying about Russian intentions:

    Is it not fairer to equip these chosen [scholars] with the written permission of the mentioned hierarchs to take from the monasteries the most important manuscripts (for example, the fifth century Sinaitic text of the Septuagint) not permanently, but for a limited period for the reproduction of those ancient texts, and to take them under the guarantee of our mission to Constantinople and the local consuls with the promise to return them to their places, and not without recompence?93 p. 44
    Nor does Kevin demonstrate that the Russians kept Tischendorf in the dark.

    The problem here is that Kevin is building partly on the Tischendorf red cloth surprise, which I like to call the red cloth fabric-ation. Yet, ironically, Kevin indicates in our discussion that he believes that Tischendorf knew about the New Testament, which will be in his forthcoming monograph. So his own position is a rather sticky-wicket hybrid (Tischendorf knew about the New Testament, but not Barnabas and Hermas ????), and his comments above include his own conjectures, given without factual support. We know that Bill Cooper does that frequently, but we also see this from Kevin McGrane.

    We look forward to his monograph, to see how it handles these difficulties.

    (My personal view is that Tischendorf knew all about the New Testament, Hermas and Barnabas when he was en route to Sinai, and that he knew about the concern about Simonides having been involved in the creation of the ms. at Athos. See the reference to Simonides in his Jan, 1859 letter to his wife.)


    Ironically, Kevin uses the same thief's wording as we saw from the pen of Tischendorf to his brother Julius in 1844:

    On this his third visit to St Catherine's monastery, Tischendorf came into possession of 347 leaves of the codex from which he had previously carried away 43 leaves. p. 45
    And Kevin does not mention the alternate explanation of direct theft in 1859. With Tischendorf using liquor ("Prince Regent") and then rushing the manuscript from Sinai to Cairo, as given by William George Thorpe. Followed by negotiations and a cover story and documents for the public and administrative consumption.


    One last comment from Kevin McGrane in this section should be noted:

    97 We cannot fail to note the deep irony that Simonides wove into the fabric of his story that he had written the codex to be a wonderful present for the Tsar. - p. 45
    However, Kevin omits the backdrop involving the learned Benedict, the fact that the monastery did have solid Russian contacts, and the precise reasons given involving a printing press, which all fits the tenor of the times. There is no "deep irony" involved, allowing that the minor symmetry is legitimate to be noted.
    Last edited by Steven Avery; Today at 01:18 PM.

  4. Default is the Jesuit conspiracy theory viable after you discount the Bill Cooper errors?

    Kevin McGrane does not really go into the evidences that are presented by Bill Cooper. Which often revolve around the slavish Vatican approach to Tischendorf.

    The fact that Bill Cooper makes some major errors does not falsify the basic underlying theory.

    As an analogy, AV defenders often make errors of fact and theory, such as the way the "two streams" theory is presented. This does give a big knock to "two streams" but it does not falsify the AV pure and perfect approach.

    In this thread, we will try to do a more even-handed approach to the Cooper Chapter 3.

  5. Default Conclusions: why would a 600 AD Sinaiticus be linked to a "fourth century component"?


    The theory of Kevin McGrane tends to a later Sinaiticus than the one accepted today as 4th century.

    There is a curious point on this, however. I am using the classical ad hominem approach, allowing his arguments, "to the man":

    If Donaldson is correct on these points, then as the Palatine Latin translation is fifth Century and the Greek may be post-fifth Century then a sixth Century production of Codex Sinaiticus is consistent with these findings. This aligns with Uspensky's mature view that the Codex is a sixth Century copy of a fourth Century exemplar of the New Testament. Added to this, then, were Contemporary (sixth Century) recensions of Hermas and Barnabas with Latin influences from the fifth Century. None of this points to a nineteenth Century production.

    ... However, the alternative of a fourth Century production of Codex Sinaiticus does not follow from rejection of Dr Cooper's thesis. Important scholars have considered that it is a production of the fifth or sixth Century of a fourth Century exemplar. But whether it is a sixth Century copy of a fourth Century edition or an edition made in the fourth Century, there is an important fourth Century component, in a time when the Church was fighting for its life during the Arian controversies, from which there is ample testimony of the corruption of the Scriptures by the Arians.
    Lets say that Sinaiticus was made in 600 AD (e.g. David Trobisch has floated that idea.) It would be a relatively unimportant uncial, and that would mean that the textual world was even that much more duped by Hort.

    However, why all the blah-blah to the supposed "fourth Century component"? Codex Bezae could be said to have a "second century component" in Old Latin sources, but that is simply conjecture and has very little to do with its textual value.

    If Sinaiticus was made at 600 AD., it could easily have lots of variants and corruptions that come from .. 600 AD. The supposed "fourth century component" would be nothing but conjectural manipulations, of very little value.

    The preface reference:

    The suggestion that Codex Sinaiticus is a nineteenth century forgery by Jesuits, and the attempts to prove such by means of conspiracy theories, are huge distractions from consideration of its real provenance, which reveals a heavy influence from heterodox elements in the early church, certainly in the fourth century, and possibly in the fifth and sixth centuries as well.

  6. Default interesting historical-textual tidbits - Burgon, Nolan and Erasmus


  7. Default the Jesuit conspiracy question - KM proposes that Simonides would have been murdered

    Jesuit conspiracy?

    The suggestion that Codex Sinaiticus is a nineteenth century forgery by Jesuits, and the attempts to prove such by means of conspiracy theories, are huge distractions from consideration of its real provenance, which reveals a heavy influence from heterodox elements in the early church, certainly in the fourth century, and possibly in the fifth and sixth centuries as well. Introduction - p. 2
    Much of p. 6-14 is around Cooper and the question of conspiracy.

    Some of the McGrane counter-conjecture goes a little wild, like in p. 9 where he implies that the Jesuits would have murdered principles.

    Surely a Jesuitical plot backed by the full panoply of the Roman Church would have avoided all the aforementioned problems of interaction and discovery by having Simonides come by an unfortunate 'accident' shortly after delivery of his codex, since he would have been useful only up to that point, and become a total liability to the success of the plot afterwards as a potential whistleblower who knew far too much. Yet he lived and travelled throughout Europe and the Ottoman and Russian empires after his alleged delivery of the codex in August 1840 until his death in Albania in 1890, aged about 65.
    The SART team avoids the dogmatic statements made by Cooper. There is simply too much unknown.

    Yet, it is ironic that Kevin McGrane's attack on the Cooper theories is essentially a one-up-man-ship theory about the conspiracy theory! Written in the Bill Cooper style. "Surely... unfortunate 'accident" Why wasn't Simonides murdered? This is a bit humorous.

  8. Default The 1975 'New Finds' - p. 46

    The 1975 'New Finds' - p. 46

    Dr Cooper quotes a 1987 report by Moshe Altbauer (who had been working there since 1968) that access to the room in which they were found became inaccessible 'about 150 years ago'. Calculating back from this date to around 1837 piques Dr Cooper's suspicion of a conspiracy (p.75):

    Learning that the room was about to be sealed along with a chest full of manuscripts, did Tischendorf place the Sinaiticus leaves there, leaves which he thought might compromise his later claims for the antiquity of Sinaiticus? It is likely, very likely indeed.
    Kevin artfully ignores the problems that Hermas posed for Tischendorf, that strongly support this conjecture from Cooper. (Also, potentially, Genesis 23.) Later, I will go back and see if Cooper gives that context, which is covered in depth by David W. Daniels and the writing on this forum.

    In response, we get a grab bag of dates from Kevin McGrane that are meant to appear to be a refutation of what was written by Bill Cooper. And the dates directly contradict Kevin's claim, here is one example:

    100 n.n. Ambraseys et at, The Seismicity of Egypt, Arabia and the Red Sea (Cambridge, 2005): 'c. 1839. Sinai. Rabino refers to the repairs of the fortification wall of St Catherine's monastery in Sinai during this year, following an earthquake that caused them some damage. Repairs to the 'museum' building in c.1840 are also mentioned. [Grigoriadis (1875), p.48; Rabino (1937), p.25; Ben-Manahem (1979), p.258].' This is confirmed by A. A. Umanets, who records that during his visit of 1843 he was informed that a recent earthquake had damaged the north-east wall such that it threatened to collapse, and repairs had been done at the monastery's expense.
    Trip to Sinai. With the introduction of passages about Egypt and the Holy Land
    Поездка на Синай. C приобщением отрывков о Египте и Святой Земле
    (St Petersburg, 1850).
    Уманец А.

    A wall that was threatening to collapse in 1843, and that had received repairs, could easily have been accessible for decades.

    So Kevin McGrane was just winging it in claiming:

    ...this storeroom on the fortification wall became inaccessible due to its collapse in the Sinai earthquake of 1839.
    Note that Kevin is trying to falsely imply that the storeroom was inaccessible in 1839, and most readers of his paper will likely not read more carefully.

    Now, to be fair, it is unlikely that Tischendorf, or his allies, would have deliberately mangled Hermas until 1855, the year of the first Simonides Hermas publication. The publication of Hermas, however, caused him enormous difficulties, and this is (to be checked) never mentioned by Kevin. And as is shown above, access in the 1850s is definitely not negated by the sources given by Kevin McGrane, not in the paragraph above, or the additional material from Uspensky.


    Incidentally, in discussing Uspensky, Kevin never points out that Uspensky did not indicate Hermas as partial. It would be interesting to see if Hermas comes up after the 1856-57 books of Uspensky. Uspensky almost surely saw all of Hermas in 1845 and 1850, else he would have indicated something like "the beginning of Hermas".

    Why did Uspensky not raise an issue about this later? Perhaps he thought that some loss at the monastery of auxiliary, non-NT, material was not such a big deal, and could have been caused in a number of ways. Uspensky would not be anxious to accuse Tischendorf without direct evidence. In fact, they often assisted one another, such as when Tischendorf published Uspensky material.

  9. Default materials analysis - Leipzig had planned tests !

    Determining genuineness by materials analysis

    When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946 they were submitted for radiocarbon dating in 1950 to establish their antiquity. Researchers also analysed their ink composition using a cyclotron particle accelerator, performed DNA testing on the parchment (animal hide), particle-induced X-ray emissions testing, and broadband fluorescence infrared photography.

    Unlike the case of other manuscripts where palaeography alone failed to distinguish between the genuine and the fake, yet chemical and physical analysis finally confirmed modern forgery, no museum has shown any inclination to perform similar analyses on Codex Sinaiticus - or Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, and papyri such as P46 for that matter.
    However, the Leipzig University Library had planned tests on Sinaiticus in 2015. McGrave omits this, even though the tests were planned by the prestigious BAM of Berlin, who did the very same DSS tests he references!

    The tests were cancelled. Why? The most sensible conjecture is that word was getting out that the tests might show Sinaiticus to be of recent vintage. The people in the museums know of the "phenomenally good condition" and the colour variances and other concerns.

    The aforementioned private correspondence with the British Library put the matter clearly with regard to radiocarbon dating: it has no plans to perform C14 dating of Codex Sinaiticus, nor has it done any in the past. Additionally, the Codex Sinaiticus Project, which brings together the work of the four museums that house parts of the codex, confirms that no chemical analysis has been performed on the inks:

    The Codex Sinaiticus inks have never been chemically characterized, and the type and proportions of ingredients mixed together have never been determined. Therefore, the composition of the writing media can only be roughly guessed by observing their visible characteristics and their degradation patterns.5

    This is remarkable considering the case of Gregory-Aland Codex 2427 formerly known as 'Archaic Mark' whose text is extremely similar to Codex Vaticanus, a matter that is touched upon briefly and relevantly by Dr Cooper in respect of chemical analysis (although he makes a grave error in relation to Vaticanus as is noted below). Codex 2427 was highly esteemed by T.C. Skeat, palaeographer at the British Museum, and by Kurt Aland, whose work on the Greek New Testament text forms the basis for most modern translations. However, its genuineness was completely undermined in 2006 when its text was demonstrated slavishly to follow Buttmann's 1860 typographical facsimile of Vaticanus, including its mistakes, and it was confirmed in 2009 by chemical analysis that it is a forgery of later than 1874 since one of the inks used in its production was not marketed until that year.

    A similar example (relevant to this review since Dr Cooper believes that Codex Sinaiticus was written in 1840 by Simonides) is recounted in the newspaper obituary of Constantine Simonides:

    Simonides, the notorious Greek manuscript forger.. .had a most remarkable career, and as a forger of Egyptian and Syrian antiquities he stands without an equal. Among his exploits was the presentation to a committee of scholars of a manuscript of Homer...anterior to the Christian era. Eleven of the 12 members of the committee were convinced of the authenticity of the document, but the twelfth discovered that it was a faithful copy of the text of Homer as published by the German critic Wolff, and that the manuscript reproduced the whole of the printer's errors in this edition...Several of the greatest scholars of Europe were, indeed, deceived by the forgeries of this astute Greek.6

    These embarrassing debacles underscore that through over-reliance on palaeography it really is possible to fool almost all of the people all of the time.

    6 The Times, October 18, 1890. - p. 4-5

  10. Default comparative theories - The Inference to the Best Explanation - begging the question - circular reasoning

    On p. 12 Kevin McGrane attacks the "beg the question" and circular reasoning approach of Bill Cooper. It is clearly a reasonable attack contra Cooper, and has nothing to do with our approach.

    Kevin is also offering a rather facile approach to:

    The Inference to the Best Explanation
    given by Harman in 1965 the Philosophical Review.

    In general, there will be several hypotheses which might explain the evidence, so one must be able to reject all such alternative hypotheses before one is warranted in making the inference. Thus one infers, from the premise that a given hypothesis would provide a "better" explanation for the evidence than would any other hypothesis, to the conclusion that the given hypothesis is true...When a detective puts the evidence together.. .he is reasoning that no other explanation which accounts for all the facts is plausible enough or simple enough to be accepted.14

    As we shall see in abundance, Dr Cooper's method, rather than of inference to the best explanation, moves from his chosen explanation to inference: his desired explanation drives all the inferences.

    14 Harman, The Inference to the Best Explanation. Philosophical Review 74: 88-95 (1965).
    Thus here is where McGrane has one of his two major integrity fails, jumping off to attacking others for faults he understandably perceives in Cooper, part of his transference fallacy and false accusation methodology covered in posts 2-3 here.

    One irony is that McGrane's analysis often suffers from the same faults, in the opposite direction.

    On the philosophical level, we see that what McGrave is offering is rather facile.

    Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation
    edited by Kevin McCain, Ted Poston
    Inference to the Best Explanation
    What Is It? And Why Should We Care?
    Igor Douven

    As other commentators have remarked, these and other formulations of IBE raise several questions of clarification, most notably, the question of how to determine which of a number of competing explanations is best. And should we really infer to the best explanation no matter how poorly it might explain the relevant facts, as some of the formulations seem to imply? This apparent problem is avoided by Musgraves version, which requires that the explanation be satisfactory to begin with (see in the same vein Lipton [1993]), but then Musgrave is silent on what it takes for an explanation to qualify as satisfactory. ... (continues)
    Igor Douven explains some of what is wrong with overly simplified attempts to use this philosophical construct.

    However, this discussion can give us a good jumping off point for discussing the comparative theories.

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