[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Essenes, again. Was: 1000 scribes... (long)

>Moshe (indicated by ">>>" and ">"):
>>Have you seen a layout of the area, and the proximity of the caves (especially
>>#4) to the Qumram area? The appearance of the area after 1500+ years bears
>>little if no resemblance to what it looked like when it was in use. I seem to
>>recall reading that there was a path to the caves that was found. Which would
>>add to the connection.
>There is no possibility that anything could have covered cave 4 up -- if you
>look at its location that would require the whole area to be covered. The
>only likely event would be that due to its exposure to erosion it would
>become more evident. Cave 4's position is not a guarantee that the last
>inhabitants of Qumran knew of it: it is off the end of a spur that made it
>much further than the straight line distance indicates and the original
>entrance was off the side. The entrance from above I gather was cut by the
>archaeologists for easier access and still it's not easy. There is little
>likelihood that a path was discovered to this cave as the only access is via
>an extremely open neck of land.

So how do you suppose the people got in in the first place?

>>then how could someone else have known
>>of them who was not in the area? The only argument (which seems quite weak) is
>>that they caves were known, but that someone else used them, and not the
>>people of Qumran. That would require a good deal of evidence.
>The evidence is reasonably clear that the texts did not relate to the last
>inhabitants. The last historical references were to about 62 bce (Aemilius
>kills, etc) -- all other historical references were prior to that time.
>There is no reason to assume that the same people who lived in Qumran prior
>to Herod returned there. (It seems beyond belief that a community that lived
>at Qumran removed all the documents from the site to bring them back on
>another occasion, besides the probable reason for abandonment [military
>attack] would have excluded such an eventuality.) There is nothing to
>connect the texts with a first century group living in Qumran,
>circumstantial evidence like physical proximity notwithstanding.
>(Archaeologists walked over the tomb of Tutankhamen for a hundred years
>without finding it. It was only a concerted effort to find that particular
>tomb that went on for several years until it was found.)

? Why do you assume that the documents were brought then taken away? (As to
the tomb of T, in his time it was obvious where it was.)

>>>2. The content in many
>>>>cases agrees with what we have with regards to the Essenes.
>>>The texts were probably written well over a hundred years before Josephus's
>>>rendition of his Essenes. There are differences between what he writes and
>>>what is found in the dss. There are differences among the dss so one cannot
>>>assume a coherent body of texts.
>>Ian, do you think that the 'Essenes' always had one type of belief/halacha and
>>that they did not change over time? That there are differences does not mean
>>they do not reflect a single group. The question is what the differences are
>>and how significant. Maybe you can mention what you consider to be a
>>'difference' so significant that it would demolish the association with either
>>Qumran or the 'Essenes'?
>The differences are enough to question the connection between the Essenes
>and the authors of the so-called sectarian works found among the dss. You
>have no evidence to show that the Essenes can be in fact dated back as far
>as the last known reference in the dss (62 bce). The talk of Essenes has
>always been a flight of fancy and it is time that it is dropped so that
>people can get on with serious analysis and not just stop gap defense of
>untenable hypotheses.

Ian have you sat with the descriptions in Josephus, and looked into Cd and
other documents. I have and they are close enough to make the possibility that
there is no relationship remote if not impossible.

>>>>Even Schiffman who
>>>>(I think correctly) has posited a Sadducee connection, will admit that these
>>>>people correspond (or are similar to) what we call Essenes.
>>>How on earth can Schiffman say anything about Sadducean theology? What are
>>>his ancient *contemporary* sources? Or is he interpolating backwards?
>>We ALL interpolate backwards.
>The dss are at the time we are trying to get at. They are contemporary
>evidence. Use them -- before you interpolate, not after.

Unless your assumption is that the group there disappeared totally from the
scene before the time that Josephus could have heard of them (and hence they
do not appear in his history) you must look to see where they are similar.
>From Josephus it seems pretty clear that from the time of the Maccabees to the
destruction of the temple there were only 3 (4 if you seperate Zealots)
religious groupings. The similarities to Essene doctrines that we know makes
it only logical to place them in that camp. Following your logic, we must
assume a group that came into existance and disappeared without anyone
knowing of them.

>>>>The only texts for
>>>>which there is some small relevance to discuss origins would be those
>that are
>>>>particularly 'sectarian', and even those could have been written in other
>>>>places since the Essenes appear to have had various communities.
>>>What criteria do you use for "sectarian" when analysing the dss? Can you say
>>>from the ancient sources which were and were not?
>>My criteriah is quite simple. 'Sectarian' means a text that is used exclusivly
>>for a particular sect. For example: 4QMMT is clearly a sectarian text as we
>>see from it a particular 'sects' POV on various halachic matters.
>There is no good reason to assume that MMT was in fact "sectarian". Read
>Greg Doudna's recent post on his rereading of MMT and tell us if you find it

I think you misunderstand what he is saying, and what I am saying. He is only
saying that he thinks the authors of MMT could have been in charge of the
temple, and that they did not seperate themselves. (I have answered him that I
think the wording used there could not have that meaning, and that a different
word needed to be used to give that type of understanding).

>>...Some of the Midrashic type texts like 4Q180-181 I consider in the
>>middle (between non-sect and sect). They probably come from the sect, but
>they may
>>reflect universal beliefs.
>This is only true if you want to sustain a sectarian interpretation.

? It appears you have not understood what I mean by sectarian.

>>>when one doesn't know what the religio-political climate was in the century
>>>before 60 bce, other than the few glimpses given in Josephus and the
>>>Maccabees books, one has no way of supporting the weight that has thus far
>>>been put on the Essene hypothesis.
>>Would you provide for me a single reason as to why I should consider the
>>possibility that during the period of time the Qumran community existed that
>>the books of Deuteronomy and Isaiah were sectarian? That appears to be what
>>you are arguing.
>No, I am arguing that there is no way to say that the non-biblical works are
>sectarian. The historical information we have is scant and cannot sustain
>the Essene hypothesis, nor can it indicate the differences between any sects
>of the period of the dss if in fact there were sects (as against political
>parties). We have no indication as to when the Essenes emerged. So everyone
>on the Essene kick has simply been shooting from the hip.

But you are argueing to ignore all evidence of similarity to know groups
living shortly after that time, and assume that this group disappeared from
history at an arbitrary period, without anyone ever knowing of them. That is
just not logical. Had there been no similarities to later groups, then there
would at least be  a possibility of such a theory. However the similarities to
the Essenes, lets one assume that some relationship exists. 

   |            /\           |                         |
   |       ____/_ \____      |                         |
   |       \  ___\ \  /      |                         |
   |        \/ /  \/ /       |     Moshe Shulman       |
   |        / /\__/_/\       | mshulman@ix.netcom.com  |
   |       /__\ \_____\      |                         |
   |           \  /          |                         |
   |            \/           |                         |