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

Re: C-14, coins, Essenes

Dear Stephen,

I get the idea that the Essene hypothesis is so well ingrained now that
everything you see is Essene.

> 2) Pliny wrote Essenes lived "without money."

Remember that we have no background as to Pliny's knowledge: was it
first hand? His testimony deserves no special place just because he says
a paragraph on the Essenes. Philo says a bit as well and he lived in

> This relates to the keeping
> of common funds by the mevaker, overseer, epimeletes.

And this is somewhat dangerous to assume that the "mevaker" has anything
to do with the Essenes. We only know that he is related to the people of
the scrolls and you haven't done any of the footwork to relate the
Essenes to the scrolls.

> This relates to the
> communal nature of Qumran Essenes, unlike Sadducees. (Perhaps keep this in mind
> when the new [first century CE?] ostracon is published.)


> In the past you heve indeed parodied a small isolated sect.

I have parodied attempts to assume a position that has never been
demonstrated, ie that the Essenes are the people of the scrolls. I have
parodied the silly idea that cave 4 was a library and the even weirder
idea that there was a bridge from there across the ravine for easier
access. I have parodied the "writing tables". There is no need to parody
the Essene sect or any other -- hypothesized -- sect who may or may not
have dwelt at Qumran.

> 3) I did not parody the issue of scribal hands. I recognize many and note that
> the widespread Essenes circulated texts among many members for a long time
> as well as obtaining texts from outsiders, in the case, e.g. of some Bible
> texts.

You have built this into an exceedingly complex set of hypotheses. You
theorize that all or most of the scrolls were produced in Qumran. You
hypothesize that they produced the texts for "export". You think that
the scroll producers were Essenes and that the contents of the documents
refer to Essenes. You want us to believe that they produced thousands of
documents. You would like us to accept the "hos en gedi" to mean most of
the way from En Gedi to Jericho. Part of the package is that these
celibates were writing documents that included at least one matrimonial
document, that in no way espoused a celibate life in the dss.

> Your comments were self-contradictory, agreeing that more texts
> remain to be found just after denying that it was reasonable for me to
> observe that the mss so far found are not a complete set.

It might be self-contradictory if I were somehow supporting the local
production variety of the Essene hypothesis and rejecting it at the same
time. As I view the seemingly insuperable problem of the multiplicity of
the scribal hands points only to 1) Jerusalem or 2) numerous sources,
but definitely not from a smallish ex-Hasmonean installation that housed
a few hundred people who you want to claim were Essenes, I do in fact
see a larger production of texts than those found at Qumran -- if they
were all we wouldn't have any HB or much else. So obviously there were
other texts. As I have said, Eusebius tells us of texts found a cave at
Jericho, along with that is a much later find report from a Nestorian
source. I see no reason to exclude further finds of documents in caves.
This does not however in any way support the idea that your industrious
little group of Essenes (assuming those who may have lived at Qumran)
were able to output the more than 800 texts found at Qumran and the
*several times more* that would be necessary for your home grown text
explanation of the scribal hands problem. Many in the scholarly
community find it incredible that so many texts could have been produced
at Qumran, let alone the numbers necessary for you to justify your
approach to the scribal hands.

> 4) Post 63 BCE sources on Sadducees include NT.

They have a walk on part in a dispute story. What would you like to make
of that? Have you ever read Samuel Johnson's Rasselas -- it's also full
of disputes. I wouldn't take Rasselas as supporting the existence of any
of the disputants.

> Sadducees did not end in 63.

I don't actually say that: I say they were decimated in 63 and that as a
political entity did nothing more in Jewish history. The Pharisees of
course had good reason for harping on the Sadducees, so their memory
wasn't going to die for a while.

> And you do not deal adequately with Alexander's wife.

I don't understand what you want to say here -- I gather you're talking
about Shelamzion, the Josephus-styled pro-Pharisee queen. But what is
your idea?

> And you have not shown why sons of Zadok = Sadducees.

Who do you have in mind but the priestly establishment that was

> 5) To analyse coins, I recommend reading dig reports and books by Yaacov
> Meshorer.

Yes, this seems like a good suggestion: it would be good to know how
coins of the various periods covered at Qumran were represented at other

> One should know about such famous coins as the revolt coins before
> making many assertions. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Joyce
> Raynor (a student of Meshorer) at Sepphoris, where there are many coins.
> One needs to consider evidence in context. For instance, Alexander ruled
> a long time and minted many coins; his bronze coins--if my memory serves
> me well--stayed in circulation a long time.

Small numbers of coins will often stay in circulation long after they
were minted.

> I am guessing that the number
> of coins (those randomly dropped) is rather small. this may relate to the
> communal economic structure which Philo, Josephus, and Pliny describe.


> 6) The C-14 evidence already available, in my view, is one of several
> sources of overlapping evidence which exclude the possibility of the
> proposed deposit in 63 BCE.

I thought that my last brief note on C-14 offers you no solace in that
evidence. At least two dated texts exclude the possibility -- according
to your logic -- of the proposed deposit in 68 BCE. One document has
been dated as earliest 72 CE and another 134 CE. You've got to accept
the fact that there are errors in the process and while it is not an
exact science a large majority of C-14 dates are in fact early, ie the
documentary trend is early first century BCE.

I can't see what you find so compelling about the Essene hypothesis. It
definitely has more holes than it is worth.


Ian Hutchesson