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Re: consensus

On Mon, 22 Apr 1996, Orion Center wrote:

> I am attempting to find some consensus in DSS studies; and would like to
> submit for your comment the following "theses", which may or may not be the
> consensus opinion.
> Thanks, ahead of time, for your help.
> 1. The Qumran community was an Essene Community

Perhaps, but what was an Essene? I do not think that this critical idea 
has been settled. From where did they come? Why did they split from the 
majority of Jews? In my thesis, I argue that they were members of the 
Oniad High Priesthood, forced to leave Jerusalem after the Hasmonean 

> 2. The Scrolls were written by or copied by these Essenes

I would assume both were the done. Again, who they were is relevant to 
why they wrote.

> 3. The sect was an eschatological community secluded in the desert awaiting
> the last war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness.

This statement is harder to pin down. Who were the "sons of light" and 
the "sons of darkness?" On what points did they dispute? It seems likely 
to me that this battle is an earthly one fought over real problems than 
it is an abstract battle between good and evil. I believe that the sons 
of light were the Oniads and the sons of darkness were the Hasmoneans. 
The prophecy that the Oniads appear to have used to justify the building 
of the temple in Leontopolis is Isaiah 19:18ff. Note that Josephus 
attributes this to Isaiah, not I (Ant. XIII 62ff. and War VII 432). In 
what appears to be an interpretative change, the LXX translates the name 
of this city as Polis Asedek, the city of the Righteous. I connect this 
with the Oniads and provide further evidence linking them to Qumran.

> 4. The sect followed the "Righteous Teacher" alone.

Yes, but who was he? I believe that he was the rightful High Priest. 
There is evidence (M. Horayot) that the High Priests were known as 
teachers. I do not find it a big leap to link the Righful High Priest 
with the Righteous Teacher.

> 5. The inhabitants of Qumran were attacked and killed by the approaching
> Roman army (in 68 CE).

They may have fled from the Roman Army, leaving Qumran circa 68 CE. 
Regardless, the Roman Army ushered in the end of the site.
-David Kaufman
Graduate Student at Duke University.