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Re: Herod-era and DSS

Greg Doudna writes:

> But here is a question for you, Russell.  Your "sectarians"
>  of the first BCE--who are they?  According to Josephus,
>  the "sadducees" carried influence during the first part 
>  of the 1st BCE, then lost power.  Perhaps Qumran literature 
>  emerges from this context?  And forget Essenes--who may 
>  be the first-century CE successors of this formerly-powerful 
>  party or philosophic school or association, by another name.  
>  Isn't it strange that the rabbis knew first- and second- 
>  century CE heterodox types as "sadducees" and seem never 
>  to have heard of Essenes?  What is going on here?
>  Best wishes and looking foward to your War Scroll article--
>  Greg Doudna

I consider 4QMMT to demonstrate a relationship between the 
sectarians and the Sadducees.  But the content of the scrolls 
most closely resembles the description of the Essenes in Josephus 
in my opinion.  So I posit that (a) the sectarians originated in 
Maccabean times; (b) in the early Hasmonean times there was an 
amicable split between the largely priestly Sadducees and the 
sectarians; (c) that the Essenes of Josephus were the spiritual 
heirs of the sectarians who preserved their literature.  The rabbis 
may have preserved memories of both the Essenes and Sadducees 
under the name Sadducees, the former being considered a subset or 
historical split-off of the latter.

However, this is for the most part plausible scenario.

An unsolved problem for me is Josephus' sources on the Essenes.  
Without knowing his sources, it's difficult to be certain what the 
testimony of Josephus signifies.

There seems to be two distinct sources.  (1) The flattering anecdotes 
in Josephus regarding famous Essene figures of the past appears in 
my opinion to derive from Nicolas of Damascus.  What his sources 
were I cannot divine -- unless this is oral history picked up at Herod's 
court.  (Nicolas was a close associate of Herod the Great, and it 
appears that Herod also favored the Essenes -- or some faction thereof.)
(2) The extended account of the Essenes, seemingly from some earlier 
written source.  

My questions with regard to the latter are who authored it and when, and 
why the division of Judaism into three sects is specifically projected back 
to the time of Hyrkanus (as I recall).  Any theories out there?

Greg, this has relevance to your other recent post:

> Josephus's Essene source has an unusual passage
>  which could read like an apology against 
>  criticisms of too liberal willingness to inflict capital
>  punishment in their courts.
>      "But in the judgements they exercise they are
>      most accurate and just, nor do they pass
>      sentence by the votes of a court that is fewer
>      than a hundred.  And as to what is once 
>      determined by that number, it is unalterable.
>      What they most of all honor, after God himself,
>      is the name of their legislator, whom if any
>      one blaspheme he is punished capitally."  
>      (_Wars_ II, 8, 9)
>  Question: if first-century CE high priests had
>  grave difficulties offing political opponents
>  without getting Roman permission, what on earth
>  is this reference to Essene courts of one hundred
>  carrying out formal executions all about?  
>  Is this a hint of Essenes having held state 
>  power at one time?  A hint or an echo out of their 
>  real, as distinguished from literarily constructed,
>  past, as it were?  Anyone have a better 
>  idea?

The issue I would raise is whether the passage from Josephus 
is relevant to the first century CE as you presume.  If Josephus 
is reproducing an older source, then the polemics might be against 
quick executions of a previous era (e.g. Herod's execution of his 
enemies; Simeon b. Shetach's mass execution of the witches, etc.).

-- Russell Gmirkin