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>the group we are talking about came to Judea
from the east around the beginning of the second century BCE.<
Why must we assume that the *members of the group* arrived in Judea only then?
It's just as likely that the individuals comprising the group espousing these
ideas were already indigenous, and that the "movement" was simply started at
that time based on the influence of exotic (primarily Zoroastrian, with some
early Gnostic thrown in?) ideas which infiltrated from outside the country.
Of course, there would have to have been a human messenger bringing them in.
One might with equal lack of logic assume that the group of people calling
themselves Nazarenes and espousing somewhat similar ideas about the imminent
end of the world came physically to Judaea, Galilee or whatever in the first
century CE from somewhere else entirely. I don't think I've seen or heard
that proposition -- but I guess it's only a matter of time....
Judith Romney Wegner, Providence