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Re: Josephus & DSS
Jim West wrote:
> First, I would suggest that you virtually disregard Josephus as a credible
> witness to the Essene movement or anything else. There is an astonishing
> idea among some scholars that Josephus is reliable history. This is simply
> not the case. Josephus was biased and his works were simply self serving;
> in short, he is as historically reliable as something like the Biblical book
> of Acts.
> Once Josephus has rightly been abandoned as a historical source one is freed
> from his fetters to understand the Qumran documents on their own terms.
> Thus, one should begin with a thorough reading of the documents themselves
> (and I recommend Garcia-Martinez's translation). Doing this will enable you
> to hear the documents themselves without Josephus whispering in your ear.
I agree with you in many instances but I wouldn't be too hard on old Joe
as far as the Essenes are concerned. He was probably reporting about the
Essenes as a whole (some 4,000 or so scattered about) which may not necessarily
reflect on the putative "sectarians" at Qumran. There may have been some
serious differences between the 200-300 "Qumranites" and the Essenes in the Jerusalem
Essene quarter that encouraged them to isolate themselves.