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Re: Names of the Angels, Herod-Era DSS

Dear Russell,

This letter is long and perhaps a little unjustified as it is more a loose
collection of musings on your last post than a coherent response (which is
not possible in my current mental state of decay).

You wrote:
>First, I was referring to Hyrkanus I (successor of Simon, predecessor of
>Artistobulus I & Alexander Jannaeus).
Thanks for the clarification. At the time I could only think of the
aftermath of Alexander Jannaeus when Salome moved towards the Pharisees, but
under Hyrcanus II there was a move back to the Sadducees.

>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
First, I don't know how much credance to put into MMT as an important
document at the time of writing. We've got Essene hypothesis supporters who
say it's Essenes writing and a Sadducean hypothesis supporter saying it's
Sadducean. The only thing we know for certain from it was that a number of
people were unhappy about the cultic practice of one particular period, that
before and including the time of writing. People have then retrofit certain
sectarian positions into the document. But, there is no information from
that period that allows us to identify the sectarian positions of that time
-- if there were actually sectarian positions and not just a protestant

I went back to Jason and Menelaus because they were the first we know about
who would have caused problems in their cultic practices, but the they are
the first of a long line stretching through Alcimus and all the Hasmonean
high priests. I don't see any evidence for choosing which of these high
priests was the one that precipitated MMT -- partially because I don't have
the mechanisms to make the choice and partially because I don't think we've
got far enough with the evidence and analysis -- we may not even have enough
material to make a learned choice.

>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).
This sounds plausible, but then there are other suggestions in circulation.

>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
>scenario whereby MMT was the first sectarian writing
Yes, I did have Schiffman in mind, but I don't find the suggestion of the
twenty years before the appearance of the righteous teacher as unlikely as
you do. If MMT precipitated a withdrawal from temple cultus on halakhic
grounds, this would have put the writers and their followers into a state of
sin, unable to perform their duties in the temple and it was not until the
teacher gave a way out of this situation that they came through the problem.
This however is only one thought on the matter. If we are not committed to a
sectarian explanation (I don't find the Essene hypothesis at all convincing)
and MMT is not connected to the righteous teacher (there's little to make a
serious connection: found in the same bunch of books? -- you should see
what's on my bookshelves), these dead sea sect theories are all shot.

>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.
This has some appeal, but it's hook, line and sinker in the mouth of the
sectarian stuff I find somewhat unjustified. Let's forget about Qumran for
the next few years, let the monastic life die a silent death and drop as
many assumptions as we can about the dss. 

Put the righteous teacher back in Jerusalem, in the temple (the unfaithful
didn't listen to him), a tense armed peace over the cultus, until another
schism partly brought about by the political choices made at the time in
which the teacher withdraws from the temple to a private house in Jerusalem,
where he is visited by the high priest. (I can't imagine the high priest
choofing off to Qumran, can you?)

MMT loses it's foundational interpretation, but it won't permit your
scenario above either for there's no longer a link between MMT and what were
interpreted as other sectarian works that could simply have been protestant
works or even formulative mainstream efforts (well, they do talk about
priests, Levites, sons of Zadok and various other things in quite a normal way).

>Josephus is reproducing an older essay on the Essenes... 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.
The paragragh that the above comes from is fairly reasoned to show that the
Essene traditions may well have come through Nicolas of Damascus, and no
doubt that it's possible. It's a shame that nothing at the moment will let
us choose one way or another.

>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.
Yes, again, you're right. One has the tendency to overstate in this written
situation. I also tend to jump on the Essene hypothesis as only weakly
founded on circumstantial evidence.


Ian Hutchesson
By the way, how come the header spells your name Gmyrken while you sign
Gmirkin? (curiosity)