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Re: Aristobulus II's "sadducees"?
> Dear Greg D.,
> Commenting on the date of Pliny's source, you wrote on 3 Oct:
> "This would put his Essenes as neighbors of Aristobulus II's "sadducees"
> who according to Josephus were expelled from Jerusalem and given the
> Judean desert fortresses mid or late first BCE."
> Do you really mean "neighbors"? And, Where does Josephus tell us
> of these "sadducees" of Aristobolus II, their expulsion and residence?
> Sincerely, Stephen Goranson UNC-Wilmington
> home: 706 Louise Circle j, Durham NC 27705
There was a bit of irony there that does not come through
well on email. The irony is that, as Russ Gmyrken's post
brought out, supporters of Aristobulus II were given the
Hasmonean fortresses (with three named exceptions) mid-1st
BCE, all of this per Josephus. Here is where there may be
a disagreement, but Bar-Adon makes a good argument to
me that Qumran was a Hasmonean fortress and therefore this is a
literary testimony, of perhaps stronger relative weight
than Pliny's hearsay report, of who is at Qumran at this time.
That was the background of the ironic "neighbors" remark.
I wanted to deconstruct the certainty on who and what was
going on. (On the fortress, I agree that the lack of
thick walls as the Herod-fortified first CE fortresses
display, in addition to the argument from silence that
Josephus never mentions Qumran as a first CE fortress,
look like good arguments against Qumran being in use as a
fortress 1st CE.)
I was still writing ironically in applying the "Sadducees"
adjective to the partisans of Aristobulus II. This is
going beyond Josephus (and who are "sadducees" anyway).
However this has, in fact, been argued. Michael Wise in
an article on the 4QMish(C) calendar text in his
recent _Thunder in Gemini_ book (and an earlier version in
the Wise et al 1994 publication of the 1992 New York
Academy of Sciences conference in NY) argues that
4QMish(c) displays a pro-Aristobulus II _tendenz_. Wise
links the partisans of Aristobulus II to the supporters
of Alexander Jannaeus who lost to the Pharisees of
Alexander Salome and JHyrcII. So that is the Sadducee-
Aristobulus II link--and the Qumran link--if you want to
argue that line. (I cannot myself see either the
name Aristobulus or a pro-Aristobulus II tendenz in
There is material in the paragraph above that a
scenario could be argued. Like the Essene 68 CE theory
it would have certain elements of plausibility while
perhaps suffering from other anomalies. There is a
rather depressing paradox at work. It seems short of
an evidential falsification the only way to deconstruct
a scenario is to show another good one. There is this
thinking that if there is only one good scenario and
everything fits, then it must be true. But if there are
two good scenarios which explain everything, then
suddenly neither becomes true. But to pursue this line
of deconstructing an Essene 68 CE scenario by showing
another one--this sucks one right into the same scenario trap,
with all of the hardening of positions, the generation
of plausible points of contact in which imagination
builds upon imagination . . .
Why don't we talk about a quo 62 BCE and ad quem 68 CE,
and talk evidence on how to compress this 106-year
date range down on either end, if it can be done
on the basis of evidence? That might get us somewhere.