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Re: consensus

To Jim West who, in trying to find a little consensus in DSS studies, wrote:

>1. The Qumran community was an Essene Community
After a long discussion on Orion re the dss just about the only consensus I
thought I saw was that noone supported the Essene theory. I thought it was a
leftover from the first generation translators -- along with monasteries and

The Essenes, as we know them (and love them) from Josephus (who prefers them
to any other flavour of Judaism), don't match the aggressive people
described in some of the dss. Strabo's location for the Essenes that he knew
about doesn't match the location of Qumran (which is much close to Jericho
and Jerusalem than to En Gedi). I get the idea that dss studies can happily
do without the Essenes.

There is still a conservative strain that supports this Essene theory, but
there are a number of other alternatives to be looked at.
1. Lawrence Schiffman, who sees a community of Sadducean extract,
2. Robert Eisenman, who sees a community strongly connected with James the Just,
3. Norman Golb, who finds no community and sees the documents getting to
Qumran from Jerusalem, and
4. Phillip Davies, who, though not giving any "solution", finds that the
texts indicate more than one religious stance.

>2. The Scrolls were written by or copied by these Essenes
As there were literally hundreds of different hands involved in the copying
of the texts, people like Robert Wise and Norman Golb find it incredible to
think that these texts were produced in the little Qumran establishment.

Given the fact that there are slightly diverse religious positions in some
of the texts, they were probably not written by a single community.

I think a lot of scholars are working away at the moment just to gather as
much information as possible before committing themselves to some hard and
fast position. Now that the texts are free to be worked upon, it's thought
best to see what's there then give global interpretations.

>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.
(By now you get the idea that I'm not convinced by the single sect theory,
but...) Perhaps the eschatological content on some of the documents might
draw consensus, but whether sons of light and sons of darkness is that
serious or representative is another discussion.

>4. The sect followed the "Righteous Teacher" alone.
This is heavily based on interpretation of the texts as a single group
produced by a single sect, which at the moment is extremely difficult to

>5. The inhabitants of Qumran were attacked and killed by the approaching
>Roman army (in 68 CE).
Perhaps you will have consensus here except for the "in 68 CE" part. While
most people will go for 68, Eisenman I think still goes for 135 (could
someone correct me if I'm wrong?).

That's my twopence worth!


Ian Hutchesson