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Re: Josephus & DSS

At 12:46 AM 9/19/96 +0200, you wrote:
>Dear Jim,
>I find the advice given here almost scandalous(!?),

really, Ian, I find it difficult to believe that you find anything
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?
Because they were the only group which did not participate in the War
against Rome in 68!

>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.

My point.

>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.

Why?  Why is he so credible to you?

>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. 

True enough.

>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 think they hold within themselves a great deal of undiscovered context.
After all, how many folks have actually read all the documents?  Really?

>I've just spent my two cents, folks.

Its far more valuable than that!

>Ian Hutchesson



Jim West
Professor of Biblical Languages, CCBI
Adjunct Professor of Bible, Quartz Hill School of Theology