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Re: Josephus & DSS

Dear Jim,

I find the advice given here almost scandalous(!?), saying
>I would suggest that you virtually disregard Josephus as a credible
>witness to the Essene movement or anything else.  
If you look at Josephus' comments on the various sects, he comes down in
both analyses in favour of the Essenes as he knows them. Though some people
read his Life to imply he was a Pharisee, he spends more time dealing with
the Essenes and in a more positive light. He plainly rejects the Sadducees
and the followers of Judas the Galilean. So why give his seal of approval to
the Essenes if he didn't know anything about them and was so unreliable?

The more pertinent thing to do is to drop this *stupid assumption* that the
documents at Qumran belonged to the Essenes until there is more evidence one
way or another. Naturally, if you believe the earth is flat, you have to get
to an edge to prove it.

As it is, Josephus is one of the few who talk about the Essenes. He was a
contemporary. He showed positive interest in them. He even states his
baggage at the start of his work. He must be one of the sources in this
matter, though to treat him at his word of course would be a mistake. But
this does not mean forget about his works. I'd rather go for Josephus on the
Essenes than flaky modern wish-fulfilment.

I however endorse the sentiment here (as the computer programmer said to the
professor of biblical languages):
>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.
But you have to find a way to avoid having a lot of other people whispering
in your ear. You must realize that you are reading the documents with little
context, so you must be very conscious of importing your own inherited ideas
into the texts.

I've just spent my two cents, folks.


Ian Hutchesson