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Re: Names of the Angels, Herod-Era DSS

Ian Hutchesson writes:

> Dear Russell,
>  You wrote the following, which makes me wonder, having seen the strongly
>  defended arguments regarding the historical information dealing with a
>  possible context for the copper scroll. I fear that the following is not
>  based on anywhere near as firm a ground as the writings already referred

I agree with your assessment.  I'd rate the ground somewhere between mud & 
quicksand -- see below.

>  Russell wrote:
>  >I can accept provisionally 
>  >calling the original Maccabean-era  sectarians as Zadokite Hasidim, 
>  >i.e. Hasidim that looked to the leadership of Zadokite priests.  And I 
>  >believe that both the Essenes and Sadducees acepted the halakhah 
>  >of the original sectarians.  The Essenes I see as more direct inheritors 
>  >of the earlier traditions, perhaps some still living in exile at a late
>  >while the Sadducees I see as being more closely connected to the 
>  >Jerusalem temple cult (largely for economical reasons) and hence 
>  >alienated from the more stringent Essenes.  MMT I see as an appeal 
>  >from the Essenes to the Jerusalem leader of the Sadducees temple cult 
>  >to abandon Pharisee practices.  The Jerusalem leader I think was probably

>  >Hyrkanus, who switched from Pharisee to Sadducee practice.

Ian continues:
>  Too much is placed on MMT without knowing
>  enough of the actual history of the documents. You use Essenes as though
>  idea were definite. Could the Jerusalem leader not just as easily have
>  Jason or Menelaus or a number of others? If it were Hyrcanus (I gather
>  Hyrcanus II), MMT is thought to have been written before the righteous
>  teacher had his problems (eg the constant use of "we") and I can see no
>  after Hyrcanus for that sort of development.

First, I was referring to Hyrkanus I (successor of Simon, predecessor of
Artistobulus I & Alexander Jannaeus).  If MMT reflects a difference of
opinion between Sadducee halakhah and Pharisee, as Qimron et al have shown, I
don't see how such a dispute could be projected back to the time of Jason or
Menelaus.  My proposal of Hyrkanus I is because he switched allegiance from
Pharisee to Sadducee and some of the practices referred to in MMT as I recall
the Talmud says were changed under Hyrkanus (if memory serves me).

As for the use of "we" implying this was before the TR, to my mind there 
is no logical basis for such a conclusion.  I know Schiffman for one has a
whereby MMT was the first sectarian writing, written by the sect (or
as a whole, and later the TR arrived and assumed leadership of the sect, but 
this is pure scenario in my opinion.  In this scenario, per CD 1.10 there was
a period of 20 years prior to the appearance of the TR in which the planting
"knew their sin and their guilt" and "groped like blind men on the path."
 MMT was supposedly written by the sect during this period.  Yet blindness
throughout the DSS is used of sin and/or apostacy.  During these 20 years,
then, the "sect" considered itself no better than apostates, and it was only
with the appearance of the Teacher that they were led from error.  So how
could they be writing letters about halakhah during the period before the
Teacher?  This makes no sense to me; my view is that MMT was written long
after the death of the TR and the passing of the urgent apocalyptic phase,
i.e. after the sectarians had nothing better to due than quibble minor points
of law.

>  Your ideas about the Essenes seem to come principally from Josephus who is
>  writing perhaps two hundred years after the problems that precipitated
>  His views are of the end of the first century and he seems to know very
>  little about the Sadducees. He doesn't supply any knowledge of the Essenes
>  before the time of Herod. I can't see how anyone can talk of Essenes
>  then.

I very nearly agree.  Josephus claims all three sects existed as early as the
time of Jonathan (Ant. 13.173), but I don't put any confidence in this claim.
 However, there are anecdotes about individual Essenes, Judas (Ant 13.311),
Manaemus (Ant. 15.373), and Simon (Ant. 17.346).  These are probably taken
from the writings of Nicolas of Damascus, the historian and apologist of
Herod the Great, which implies the term Essene was current at least in the
first century BCE; and those Essenes appear to have claimed other figures of
an earlier date as past leaders.  Judas lived in the time of Aristobulus I,
the one-year successor of Hyrkanus I, so I feel marginally entitled to
propose the Essenes existed under Hykanus I.  

As for the major account of the Essenes at Wars 2.119-166, I would question
whether it pertains to the first century CE.  Josephus is reproducing an
older essay on the Essenes -- the question is, from whom and when?  Reviewing
it, I can see only 3 potential indicators of dates.  2.125 indicates they
possessed arms as a defense against brigands.  This _might_ indicate a
Herodian date, when brigands were a major domestic problem.  2.140 indicates
their belief that "no ruler attains his office except by the will of God,"
which echoes Ant. 15.374, in which the Essene Menahem tells Herod, "You will
rule, for God has deemed you worthy."  And 2.159 concludes by saying they
were skilled at foretelling the future, which connects up with the three
anecdotes of past Essene leaders whose prophecies came to pass.  These
anecdotes (which favor Herod the Great) were doubtless preserved by Nicolas
of Damascus, again a tie-in with Herod's time.  So my best guess is the
account of Essenes came from Nicolas of Damascus.  Any other ideas or
secondary literature out there???  (I've asked before.)

Hence I would say the material in Josephus dates the Essenes to the first
century BCE, though his anecdotes about the Essenes who fought or suffered in
the Jewish War (Wars 2.152-153) demonstrates they persisted until at least 72
CE.  So yes, I am pushing the evidence more than I'd like to suggest Essenes
in the time of Hyrkanus, but not as severely as you have suggested.

-- Russell Gmirkin