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Re: orion Agrippa on Qumran Essenes

Stephen Goranson wrote:

>The recent claims that "infra hos Engada" means the Essenes lived
>in hills above En Gedi has been shown as a mistranslation,

Dear Stephen,

It's strange that you recently said:

>>>The hypothesis that Pliny used "infra" only to mean "lower in altitude"
>>>has been disproven.

To which I responded that I didn't know it was the only possible
significance. Now it seems that the possibility of En Gedi being "lower in
altitude" than where the Essenes were (in some relevant sense) is a

>and a reliable
>translation has been explained.

There is a clear difference between translation and interpretation, Stephen.

>Further confirmation comes from the fact
>that Pliny does not mention hills or any heights upon which Essenes were,
>from which one would come down in altitude to En Gedi.

If he meant, by "infra hos engeda", "below them is En Gedi", then that would
be sufficient. However, I'm only providing an alternative translation that
seems to function in order to show that the currently popular Essene
hypothesis based on an interpretation of Pliny is arbitrary.

>And there is no
>archaeological candidate overlooking En Gedi.

You might like to find out about what Hirschfield(sp?) has found at what is
locally (for En Gedi) called the "Essene camp".

>Also, if Essenes had been
>near a non-Essene settlement at En Gedi, one might ask whether they would
>be described as alone with palm trees.

I didn't realize that anyone had said that a possible Essene camp was
particularly near any non-Essene settlement at En Gedi.

>Now that it is widely recognized that Pliny used a Herodian-period
>administrative source (obviously pre-70, as shown from the list of

Obviously you are not going to deal with Golb's problems with trying to date
the Pliny passage as early.

>it is of interest to ask further what Agrippa, governor of
>Syria, knew about Essenes who lived at  Qumran,

Such conjecture won't help us much.

>a site with remains of date
>palm wood, palm leaves, and many date pits.

All you need is an oasis for them. The nearest one is En Gedi. Date products
won't give you any idea of having "only palm trees for company". You need
trees growing to fit the picture. There were obviously no palms growing
around Qumran, given the complex and costly method for gathering water
employed there.

>Herod, according to Josephus,
>knew of specific, contemporary Essenes. Agrippa, a friend of Herod, was in
>the area circa 15 BCE.

So we may conjecture that Agrippa got to know about the Essenes, we may
postulate that he wrote the information down, we may theorize that Pliny
read it and we may guess that that's what Pliny's source for the passage
was. The Essene hypothesis is based on this.

Ian Hutchesson